We Love… St Valentine: ‘The Notebook’

We Love… St Valentine

Illustration by Adeline Pericart

Get a bottle of Blue Nun, splash yourself with them cheap Christmas smellies your Auntie got you for Christmas, slip on your Penny’s underwear and turn up the stereo with the sweet, sweet sound of Barry White. And hey, if you have a partner that’s an added bonus. Yes, it’s that time of year, when St. Valentine comes to town. So in his honour the film lovers here at Film Ireland present their favourite lurve-themed films.

We’ll be adding to the list in the run-up to the 14th – check it out here. As always, feel free to add your own favourites. If you’d like to include your own review, contact steven@filmbase.ie

Now let’s get it on…

The Notebook

Órla Walshe

When it comes to romantic movies, The Notebook released in 2004 is a modern classic, you can’t argue with that. The Notebook is compiled in my opinion of some of the most authentic romantic scenes of all time. It is unusual for a film adaptation to be as equally successful as the book it was based on; however this is true of The Notebook, with eleven awards and seven nominations. The novel The Notebook made a highly significant mark in romantic fiction as it moved millions around the world and it was written by a MAN.

Casting was going to be critical for this film. They needed two actors who had sizzling chemistry on screen and could depict both young love and lovers later on in life aswell as actors to depict the elderly Noah and Allie. The love story could only be powerfully depicted if the main actors were relatively unknown. Ryan Gosling was cast first for being divergent from the usual Hollywood male yet with strong presense and talent. Ryan Gosling had said that they knew when Rachel McAdams was in the middle of her audition that she was perfect, a strong, passionate feminine beauty. McAdams depicts an Allie that is struggling to become her own woman, passionate, talented and fiercely devoted.

Gosling’s Noah Calhoun at nineteen is played with tender simplicity, with a gentle charm that is rare in depictions of men his age in film. His sensitivity makes you connect with him immediately as he experiences love at first sight when he witnesses Allie at the carnival. Noah Calhoun is the guy that most females yearn for. Personally I do not think any other male character can measure up to Noah as embodying everything you want in a man. He oozes masculinity yet retains a gentle sensitivity. He is pragmatic yet a hopeless romantic. And yet he is not perfect, he is flawed but he strives to be the best man he can be, to be worthy of Allie. The brillant James Garner is the narrator of the film, playing the devoted elderly man that Noah has become in the present, reading to his elderly beloved wife Allie played by Gena Rowlands who is now badly suffering with Alzheimers disease, about their love story. They share some heartbreaking moments as the film transitions seamlessly throughout between the present day, Allie and Noah in the nursing home and the tale of how they realised after overcoming many obstacles that they were meant to be together forever, depicted by Gosling and McAdams. It is wonderfully constructed.

Everyone dreams of growing old together with the one they love and the emotive depiction of the persistence of true love gives The Notebook its beauty. I read the book after I had seen the film, and Nick Cassavetes captures on screen the passionate love story of Noah and Allie that Nicolas Sparks created with the respect and detail it deserves.

The film illustrates how love can be blooming and then life happens. But if the love is true it can survive in the end.

My favourite quote of the movie is from Noah towards the end of the film: ‘So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, for ever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What’s it look like? If it’s with him, go. Go! I lost you once; I think I can do it again. If I thought that’s what you really wanted. But don’t you take the easy way out.’

Forget the extravagant commercial cheese of the Valentine’s Day that the shops and media push and equally cheezy rom-coms and enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling of seeing an old couple holding hands in the park and cuddle up with your lover or loved ones and become absorbed in The Notebook.

After watching the film for the first time, I was compelled to ask my grandmothers who I am lucky enough to still have alive about how they met and fell in love with my grandfathers. Listening to their riveting accounts, my grandmothers became wide-eyed and youthful again. Both my grandmothers like Allie were and are passionate women. I can remember many times in the past, observing my quiet gentle grandfathers, content and filled with pride watching my grandmothers talk vibrantly about some topic. My grandparents have had many ups and downs just like everybody else but their love has endured because they were prepared to work hard at their relationship everyday as they could not imagine spending their life with anybody else.

Just like with people no relationship is perfect. The Notebook may be an epic romance but it is also a realistic one. It portrays the potential obstacles and barriers that life can throw but as the beautiful final scene shows, the power of love can transcend all barriers if faith is put in it… Happy Valentines!

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