By Therese Gardner, Edited by Olivia Norwood
Based on a novel written by Nicholas Sparks, one of the world’s most beloved romance storytellers, The Notebook has easily become a timeless story of young love. The lovers are named Allie Nelson and Noah Calhoun. As young lovers they are played by Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. As older lovers, they are played by Gena Rowlands and James Garner. The story intercuts between the same couple at two different points in their lives: passionate teenagers at the brink of the rest of their lives, and then as older people fading away in the midst of getting older and her dealing with Alzheimer’s.
Directed by Nick Cassavetes, the story is narrated by an older Noah (James Garner) as he tells a story from his notebook of two people who fell madly in love. He reads the story to a fellow patient at a nursing home who has forgotten most memories as a result of the onset of Alzheimer’s.
A classic love tale of a poor boy and a rich girl falling in love against all odds. Allie is a rich kid, spending the summer at her family’s mansion in North Carolina while Noah is a local poor boy working at a sawmill to support himself and his father. He’s a hardworking, smart, poetic teenage boy working to figure things out for himself with the support of his father.
Noah (Ryan Gosling) notices Allie (Rachel McAdams) while at a summer carnival and, so their summer love affair begins. The two spend many moments together dancing in the streets, running through the woods, and experiencing the heat of the summer alongside one another. All appears to be going in their favor, until Allie returns home one evening with Noah in hand. Allie’s parents disapprove of Noah immediately and forbid her from seeing him again. Allie chases after Noah, as he’s leaving her parent’s house where an argument ensues and the two break up. The following morning, Allie’s mother, Anne, suddenly announces the family is leaving South Carolina. So, Allie tries to find Noah to tell him the news. When she can’t find him, she asks one of his best friends, Fin, to tell Noah that she loves him. After Noah receives the message, he returns to her home to find she is nowhere to be found.
As a result, Noah writes to Allie every day for 365 days, but Allie’s mother, Anne, hides all the letters such that Allie never sees them. Noah enlists with Fin to fight in World War II, where Fin is killed in battle. Allie volunteers in a hospital for wounded soldiers where she meets a captain. The two fall in love, and after a couple of years of dating, the two get engaged with full support from her parents, as he is young and has money. Shortly after, Noah returns home from the war to buy the abandoned house him and Allie found long ago. While in town, Noah happens to be walking by a restaurant where he sees Allie kissing Lon.
Noah convinces himself that if he renovates the house, Allie will return to him. Allie sees a picture of Noah in the newspaper alongside the house and decides to take a trip to Seabrook to find Noah living in the house. The two rekindle their relationship, until Anne shows up to warn Allie that Lon has followed her. Anne recounts her love for a young man from her teenage years that she still thinks of and, in doing so, finally gives Allie the letters that Noah had written. Allie confesses to Lon, and decides that she belongs with Noah and so returns to the home.
It is then revealed that the patient from the beginning of the movie, is Allie and that Duke is Noah. Allie had told Duke at the onset of her illness to continue to reread their journals to help her remember their past memories together. Noah suffers a heart attack while Allie is sedated after having a panic attack. Noah visits Allie in the middle of the night, and both Noah and Allie pass away holding each other while sleeping.
An emotionally, yet romantic movie that many are attracted to, as they can place themselves into the story and live out its emotion. A timely reflection of the power of a deep, everlasting love. Noah’s commitment and love transcends the emotional and physical grief caused by Allie’s Alzheimer’s – his unconditional love for Allie sustains them.