The Notebook Blu-ray Review
Kidzworld checks out the classic movie romance “The Notebook”!
By: Lynn Barker
Once in a lifetime there is that perfect love, the one that outlasts them all. For Noah and Allie, “till death do us part” has special meaning.
At a posh nursing home, an old man (James Garner) reads a love story to an old woman (Gena Rowlands) about Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams). In flashback we see that, on her summer vacation, rich teen Southern belle Allie meets working class guy Noah who simply will not give up until she goes out with him. Love is immediate and strong but her parents (Joan Allen and David Thornton) disapprove and make her go off to college in far away New York. Crazy-in-love Noah writes broken-hearted Allie a letter a day for a year but she never gets them.
Thinking Noah doesn’t care, Allie moves on with her life, eventually meeting and becoming engaged to a kind, rich young soldier Lon (James Marsden). Noah goes to WW II but never forgets Allie and on coming home, restores an old southern mansion that was the scene of their first hook-up in her honor. About to get married, Allie sees Noah’s picture in the paper and feels she must see him again just to know that he’s okay without her. He’s not.
At the restored mansion, Allie and Noah realize their love will never die. She has to choose between her first love and her current fiancé. Meanwhile, in the present, at the nursing home, we learn that the old woman is Allie and the old man is Noah. She doesn’t remember their life together due to Alzheimer’s disease. Can reading the notebook of their story bring her back.. even for a while?
All in the Family: Nick Cassavetes – Nick is the film’s enthusiastic director and his mom, who plays older Allie, is Gena Rowlands. This featurette focuses on Nick’s friendly, if loud directing style and his mom, Ryan, Rachel and more talk about working with him. Lots of on-set and behind the scenes stuff here. Interesting is info that it was actually freezing on the river when Rachel and Ryan had to be soaking wet. Pretending it is summer when your teeth are chattering is real acting!
Nicholas Sparks: A Simple Story Well Told – Since “The Notebook” was written, almost every one of Sparks’ novels has been turned into a film but none with the success of this one. This extra tells you how it all began. He was a $30,000 a year pharmaceutical salesman when he was paid a million dollars for “The Notebook”, his first novel. Nobody could believe the sensitive love story was written by a man. Interesting facts on the author who has since written so many books made into films.
Southern Exposure: Locating The Notebook – Screenwriter, Location Manager, Producer and preservationists talk about shooting the movie at real locations in the American south. Many old plantation mansions were used and we learn some of their histories. More interesting than most of these location featurettes.
Casting Ryan and Rachel – Since the chemistry of these now more famous young actors was so strong and lasted into a real life relationship after the film was over, it’s really fun to hear about how the two were put together. The filmmakers had Ryan cast first as Noah but took a long time to match him with the perfect girl. You see a part of Rachel’s screen test. Both Nick the director and Ryan say they were blown away.
Rachel McAdams Screen Test – The long version of the screen test compared with the final scenes in the film. You can really see why Rachel was the perfect actress to play Allie. She’s just amazing in these tests.
Deleted Scenes – 12 of them. A couple of Alternate love scenes are pretty steamy (without showing much) and cut for the PG-13 rating. All of the scenes were beautifully acted and some give more insight into the Allie/Noah relationship and Noah’s relationship with his dad (played by Sam Shepard). Very worth watching. One scene really lays out in more detail that the The Notebook was written by older Allie when she knew she was getting Alzheimers. I totally missed that for a long time in the film.
Two Commentaries – One by Nick Cassavetes the director, the other by Nick Sparks the novelist. Cassavetes’ is interesting and it’s fun to hear him talk about directing his own mom as older Allie. Sparks not only talks about the film but writing his novel, what inspired him and what is different about his book when made into a film.
Out in time for Mother’s Day, this wonderfully-acted and timeless romance would be a great gift and a great “watch” for moms and daughters together. Soulful guys, more in touch with their emotional sides, can get into it too. Sure it’s a very, very simple and old story: guy/gal break up, she never gets his letters, they meet again years later. But the acting, gorgeous settings, chemistry and true heart make this film shine.
Since The Notebook was made in 2004, Ryan Gosling has just blown up. You see this hot, talented guy everywhere! Rachel McAdams has had a great career as well but this is the film that basically launched both of them.
The extras are all from a 2009 release on DVD of the film but are still a very nice addition to keep. Scenes that were cut are especially good and satisfying to have for a deeper enjoyment of the film. Rachel McAdams’ screen test just blows you away and you can see why she was cast.
In my opinion, none of the films based on Sparks’ novels has impacted as well as this one. A huge reason for that is the great acting all around. It will both break your heart and cement your belief in true love and family. A definite must buy if you don’t have any version in your collection.
The set we received contains a pretty locket, a set of gorgeous postcards (Ryan looks uber-hot!) and a very nice blank journal for you to write down your own story. A few newer interviews, especially by Ryan and Rachel looking back would have been a great addition. As is, 4 out of 5 stars.
The Notebook Blu-ray Rating: