Often cited as one of the most romantic movies ever, “The Notebook,” based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel of the same name, is a classic that is revered amongst the hopeless romantics of today. A tale of love set in the 1940s, “The Notebook” delivers a fairytale romance which many people can only dream of, and I can see its appeal upon another watch of the film, especially with Valentine’s Day around the corner.
The story is simple enough: as his aging wife suffers from dementia, a man attempts to help her recall her life by chronicling their love story in a notebook he wrote. With Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams playing the younger counterparts of Noah and Allie, a classic tale of a poor boy falling for a rich girl unravels.
Under a modern lens, Noah’s initial interaction with Allie can be questionable. The two meet at a local carnival through mutual friends, Noah is immediately taken by Allie. When Allie climbs aboard a Ferris Wheel, Noah pursues her and repeatedly asks her out, to which she repeatedly says no. Finally when he puts his life in danger to coax her into saying yes, she agrees. In a real-world scenario, most people would deem this to be overtly creepy.
Often, this is the case when viewing other classic ‘romantic films’ in retrospect, from “Say Anything,” to “Love Actually,” to “Overboard.” However, apart from the one aforementioned scene, other parts of the film hold up pretty well in a more ‘woke’ viewing, which could explain why the film remains popular today. Showcasing all parts of Noah and Allie’s relationship, from the fun summer escapades to the occasional fights, the relationship is at least shown to be based on mutual respect and affection, which is a rare case in most romantic films.
Sprinkling in Allie’s parents’ disapproval of Noah and playing on a love triangle which pits Allie between Noah and James Marsden’s Lon, the movie hits all the Hollywood clichés necessary in a romantic film. Having to choose between the man who has wealth, a good name, and a good family, or the man she left behind, Allie also gets more of a character than most women in romantic films are ever given. Her internal conflict is clearly visible, and that adds weight to her choice in the end. Once again, it is not perfect in a modern viewing, but the movie has its moments that manage to shine through.
By no means is the film a masterpiece, as it falls prey to cheesy dialogue and melodramatic scenes. But at the end of the day, it is hard not to enjoy the film just based on the charm of the two leading actors and the storybook love story it is able to give audiences. In real life, love is messy and relationships never go the way we wish them to. That being said, movies like “The Notebook” can bring out, or inspire the hopeless romantics in all of us, to pursue that modern, not so creepy, fairy tale.