Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands
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I can't recall being this affected by a film since "The Prince of Tides," back in the early 90s. (Well.....Good Will Hunting was pretty neat, too) It's got everything a growing boy or girl could want. Strategically, I avoided it like the plague when it was originally released, because someone said it was primarily a "chick flick." But oh.......it's so much more than that!
Like Wikipedia, I will issue a "Spoiler Alert" now before discussing it. If you haven't seen the film, click off from this article and just GO GET IT. Then, you'll know what I'm talking about.
The whole premise is so metaphysically relevant it rocks my socks. It's a love story, and an excellent one to boot. Typical Romeo and Juliet. She's from a rich family, and he's a poor country boy. But their two energies together are like roman candles. The portrayals are so vivid, and the acting so grand, that I could go on and on simply about those elements---not to mention the excellent direction by Nick Cassavettes (son of filmmaker John Cassavettes and Gena Rowlands). But I'll refrain from that. Let's get right to the good stuff, shall we? Well, hell.......it's all good stuff.
A middle-aged woman is diagnosed with something like early Altzheimer's. She's married to a man she loves, has kids and grandkids, and she wishes she wasn't caught up in this process of "leaving." So she buys a notebook and sits down to write the story of their love. And believe me, it's a beaut! When she finishes writing, she gives him the Notebook and tells him: "If ever I go away (mentally), just read me this story and I'll come back to you." And that's how this movie begins. She's in a rest home for people with Dementia, and her nurse tells her this guy (who is called "Duke") is going to read to her. That's all we, the audience, know about the situation as the story opens.
For a tale like this to be compelling, the primary love in it has to be believable. This one surely is. The energy that grows between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams is so intense that a 3D romance continues between the two actors, long after the movie is filmed and released. And how could it not? Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton are love icons, to be sure. They love life, they love themselves........and man, oh man.....they are absolutely crazy about each other. And it shows.
I began doing a "tour" of Ryan Gosling films after I saw his performance opposite Anthony Hopkins in the recent release "Fracture." I believe him to be one of THE rising stars in movies today. As part of my "tour," I discovered Noah and Allie. And the rest just feels like history.
First off, isn't this "notebook" exercise what SPIRIT is doing with all of us? Aren't WE suffering from some kind of Multiversal "Dimentia," having forgotten the better portion of who we all are? That's one of the first things that hit me when I saw this movie. The skill and patience exercised by "Duke" as he softly awakens "Allie" from her nether world is ever so typical of the love shown to us by Guides, Teachers, and Icons in the Expanded Realms.
Another thing that greatly impressed me is the steadiness and surety that Noah shows in his love for this woman. I mean.........seven years after she leaves his life, he is still busy building the house for her that he promised at age 17. Although she is electrified by him, she always seems to be going away. And even when he finally "wins" the right to marry her, she still finds a way to elude being entirely his. This is another wondrous example of the "unattainability" factor of complete love, here in 3D. Anthony Hopkins' C.S. Lewis discusses this very point in the movie "Shadowlands," as well as living it..........and I have come to totally believe in it myself. It is often the longing........the yearning........that makes love the primary force in our universe. It is a VOID that is never entirely filled, except by visions of what could be, what should be. And filling those voids seems to be one of the major driving forces in life.
I surmised that Noah's undying patience about waiting for the woman is a bleed-over from his family of origin, and voids also existing in his Dad. We don't see a reference to Noah's mother in the movie. She has left the picture, it seems, and we aren't told where she went. I assume she died of some illness. The connection between Noah and Frank Calhoun (his Dad, played well by Sam Shepherd) is deep and loving. But that craving for the woman..........that missing female element.........becomes the primary focus of Noah's life experience. Missing mother, missing wife........missing, missing, missing. This is a "carrot" which life holds out in front of this man, and his devotion to attaining that closeness is amazing to see. I suspect we all would like to "be in love" like that. But few find it within ourselves to hold the tone. Noah does, and the picture he paints of continued love is almost as breathtaking as Rachel McAdams is herself. She brings a zest for living, and a playful "little-girl" energy to every moment she's on that screen.
I got a kick out of this clip from MTV Movie Awards for 2005. Rachel and Ryan had become a "thing" by then, and they were given the award for "best kiss" in a movie that year. They manage to totally light up the camera again, too.......and I had to giggle at how hungry people were for that kind of luster in a relationship. It is HOLLYWEIRD, I know. But who cares? It feels like really good juju in my book!
Last, but surely not least, a good vote of congrats needs to go directly to Nicholas Sparks, who wrote this lovely story. He is obviously a man with depth, and an ability to capture on paper the needs and processes we carry as humans, trying to evolve on this blue-green ball, hanging in the heavens. Good on ya, Nick! Good on ya, BOTH NICKS, in fact.......(Cassavettes, too).......as a salute to an exquisite job of directing.
James Garner and Gena Rowlands look NOTHING like Ryan and Rachel would look if they were to get old. But no one really cares. They both so powerfully portray that process of "reconnecting" at the conclusion of the film, that it just works. As the Director mentioned in his commentary: "No one tells a story like Jim Garner." And I absolutely concur.
The Notebook. Get it. Open it. Read it. See it. Well worth your time. It was well-worth mine.
Copyright, 2007, by Daniel Jacob. All Rights Reserved. May be copied and shared, for purposes of personal growth and/or research, so long as the above URL and this copyright are included. All reproduction for profit, by any means, requires the written permission of Reconnections, Inc.