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The Notebook is a romantic drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes, based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as Noah and Allie, a young couple who fall in love during the early 1940s. Their story is narrated from the present day by an elderly man played by James Garner, telling the tale to a fellow patient, played by Gena Rowlands.

Plot

In a modern-day nursing home, an elderly man named Duke begins to read a love story from his notebook to a female fellow patient who has lost her memory.

In 1940, at a carnival in Seabrook Island, South Carolinamarker, local country boy Noah Calhoun sees 17-year-old heiress Allie Hamilton for the first time and is immediately smitten. She continuously refuses his persistent advances until their well-meaning friends lure them together; they then get to know each other on a midnight walk through empty Seabrook.

Noah and Allie spend an idyllic summer together. One night, a week before Allie is to leave town, she and Noah go up to an abandoned house called the Windsor Plantation. Noah tells her that he hopes to buy the house. They are interrupted by Noah's friend Fin with the news that Allie's parents have the police out looking for her. When Allie returns home, she and her parents have an argument and her mother forbids her from seeing Noah again, calling him "trash" and saying he is not right for her. Outside, Allie fights with Noah. He believes her parents are right and that he is not good enough for her, and the two break up. Allie immediately regrets the decision but Noah drives away. The next morning, Allie's mother reveals that they are going home right away. Allie tries to find Noah, but when she goes to the lumber yard Fin tells her he is out making a delivery. She begs Fin to tell Noah that she loves him and is sorry for everything, and Fin reluctantly agrees. When Fin tells Noah what Allie said, Noah tries to see Allie before she leaves but arrives at her house to find that she has already left. Noah, devastated by their separation, writes her one letter every day for a year, only to get no reply. Noah and Allie eventually have no choice but to move on with their lives. Allie continues to attend Sarah Lawrence Collegemarker, while Noah and Fin enlist to fight in World War II where Fin is killed in battle.

Allie volunteers as a nurse for wounded soldiers. There, she meets the wealthy Lon Hammond, Jr. , a well-connected young lawyer who is handsome, sophisticated, charming, and comes from an old Southern family. The two eventually become engaged, to the joy of Allie's parents, although Allie wonders why she is reminded of Noah's face when Lon asks her to marry him.

When Noah returns home, he discovers his father has sold their house so that Noah can go ahead and buy his dream house, the Windsor Plantation. While visiting Charlestonmarker to file some paper work, Noah witnesses Allie and Lon kissing at a restaurant. Devastated, Noah convinces himself that if he keeps his promise to her and fixes up the house, Allie will come back to him. When his father dies shortly thereafter, the house is all Noah has left. He tries to sell the house, but finds he cannot do it and refuses all offers for it.

In 1947, While trying on her wedding dress, Allie spots an article about Noah's renovation on the Windsor Plantation in a newspaper and faints. She decides to visit Noah in Seabrook and he invites her to dinner, during which Allie tells Noah about her engagement. Later in the evening, Noah asks Allie to come back the next day, saying he wants to show her something.

In the present, it is made evident that the elderly woman is Allie — suffering from dementia, which has stolen her memories — and that Duke is her husband. Allie does not recognize their children and grandchildren, who beg Duke to come home with them. Duke insists on staying with Allie, refusing to abandon her.

Back in 1947, Allie and Noah go rowing on a nearby lake in the morning and reminisce about their summer together. He shows her a part of the creek where dozens of swans have gathered, explaining that they will eventually leave when the summer ends. As a rain storm starts Noah rows to shore, where Allie, after getting a good look at him in the rain, demands to know why Noah never wrote to her. After Noah tells her he wrote to her every day for one year, he says their romance was never over and that it still isn't over, and they share a passionate kiss, before making love.

The next day, Allie’s mother appears on Noah’s doorstep while Noah is out, telling Allie that Lon has followed her to Seabrook after Allie's father told him about Noah. Her mother takes Allie out for a drive to show her that there had been a time in her life when she could relate to Allie's present situation. She drives Allie to a coal deposit, where men are shoveling coal. She points out one man and explains that she and him used to be "out of our minds in love" with each other. She starts to cry and tells Allie that she truly does love Allie's father but that she doesn't deserve him, then looks meaningfully at the man and mutters "I don't even know who that is anymore." The man spots her and looks stunned for a moment before they drive off again. On returning to Noah's, she hands her daughter the bundle of 365 letters that Noah had written to her with a quill pen. When alone, Noah asks Allie what she is going to do; Allie is confused and confesses that she doesn’t know. Noah becomes frustrated that they are "back to this," the place where, even after they have loved each other completely and totally, they don't know if it is enough. Noah asks her to just stay with him, admitting that it is going to be really hard, and that they will fight, but he is willing to go through anything because he wants to be with her. Confused as ever and upset, Allie drives off.

While driving, Allie is almost involved in a car accident and pulls over on the side of the road shaken. There, she unties the stack of Noah's letters and opens the first one, reading it. She later drives to the hotel and confesses to Lon, who is angry but admits that he still loves her. He tells her that he does not want to convince his fiancée that she should be with him, but Allie tells him he does not have to, because she already knows she should be with Lon, but she says she loves and wants to be with Noah.

The film goes back to the elderly couple, and Duke asks his fellow patient who Allie chose. She soon realizes the answer herself; young Allie appears at Noah's doorstep, having left Lon at the hotel and chosen Noah. They embrace in reunion.

Duke's elderly companion suddenly realizes that she herself is Allie. She remembers her past, and that Duke is Noah. They joyfully spend a brief intimate moment together; after originally finding out about her impending illness, she had herself written their story in the notebook with the title and instructions for Noah: "The story of our lives, by Allie Calhoun. Read this to me, and I'll come back to you." But soon Allie relapses, losing her memories of Noah yet again. She panics, and has to be sedated by the attending physician. This proves to be too difficult for Noah to watch and he breaks down. The next morning, Noah is found unconscious in bed and he is rushed to the hospital; he later returns to the nursing home's intensive care ward. He goes to Allie's room later that night, and Allie remembers again. She asks him if he thinks their love can make miracles, and he says that miracles are what bring her back to him every time. She then asks him if he thinks their love can take them away together, and he replies, "I think our love can do anything we want it to." Noah's last words before falling asleep are "I'll be seeing you". The next morning, a nurse finds them in bed together, having both died in their sleep, holding each other's hands, and the credits roll with a shot of the swans flying away.

Cast



Reception

Critical response

The film received mixed reviews from critics. The review aggregate at Rotten Tomatoes reported that 52% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 144 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 53 out of 100, based on 34 reviews..

Box office performance

The film opened June 25, 2004 in the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker and grossed $13.4 million in 2,303 theaters its opening weekend, ranking #4 at the box office. The film grossed a total of $115.6 million worldwide, $81 million in the United States and Canada and $34.6 million in other countries.

References



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