The Notebook is a 2004 American romantic drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes, from a screenplay by Jeremy Leven and Jan Sardi, and based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as a young couple who fall in love in the 1940s. Their story is read from a notebook in the present day by an elderly man, telling the tale to a fellow nursing home resident.

The Notebook
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNick Cassavetes
Screenplay byJeremy Leven
Adaptation byJan Sardi
Based onThe Notebook
by Nicholas Sparks
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyRobert Fraisse
Edited byAlan Heim
Music byAaron Zigman
Production
company
Gran Via
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release dates
  • May 20, 2004 (2004-05-20) (Seattle)
  • June 25, 2004 (2004-06-25) (United States)
Running time
124 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$29 million
Box office$117.8 million

The Notebook had its world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 20, 2004, and was theatrically released in the United States on June 25, 2004. Despite generally mixed reviews from critics, Gosling and McAdams were singled out for praise for their performances. The film was a sleeper hit at the box office, grossing $117 million against its $29 million budget, and has become a cult classic in the years since its release.[2][3][4][5] On November 11, 2012, an extended version premiered on ABC Family with deleted scenes added back into the original storyline.[6]

The film earned several accolades, including the MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss for Gosling and McAdams at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. At the 11th Screen Actors Guild Awards, James Garner was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role and Gena Rowlands won Best Supporting Actress – Drama at the 9th Golden Satellite Awards.

Plot

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At a modern-day nursing home, the elderly Duke reads a romantic story from a notebook to a female patient:

In 1940, at a carnival in Seabrook Island, South Carolina, lumber mill worker Noah Calhoun sees 17-year-old heiress Allison "Allie" Hamilton, there for the summer. He pursues her and they begin a romance.

When Allie meets Noah's father Frank Calhoun, he immediately likes her. However, when Noah meets her parents, they disapprove. That night, Noah takes Allie to the abandoned Windsor Plantation, telling her he will buy and restore it. As the sun sets, they start to make love for the first time. Noah's friend Fin interrupts to warn them Allie's parents sent the police out looking for her.

When Allie and Noah return to her parents' mansion, Allie's mother Anne makes it clear they are against the relationship and forbid her from seeing him. Noah leaves and Allie follows, they argue and she impulsively breaks up with him, but immediately regrets it.

The next morning, Anne announces they will be returning to Charleston immediately. Allie seeks Noah to apologize but is unsuccessful, so asks Fin to tell him she loves him. Noah rushes to Allie's when he hears but is too late.

Noah writes Allie every day for a year, but Allie's mother intercepts the letters. When all 365 go unanswered, he stops writing to move on. He and Fin enlist and fight in the Battle of the Bulge where Fin is killed. Allie nurses wounded soldiers in a hospital, meeting Captain Lon Hammond Jr., a young lawyer who comes from old Southern money. After a few years, they become engaged, to Allie's parents' delight.

Noah returns from the war and finds his father has sold their home so Noah can buy The Windsor Plantation. He believes that if he restores it, Allie will return to him. Once it's completed, Noah resists selling it. As Allie tries on her wedding dress, she sees a newspaper photo of Noah in front of the renovated house and faints.

Allie's feelings for Noah come rushing back, so she asks Lon to take a solo trip before the wedding. Returning to Seabrook, she finds Noah living in their dream house. They rekindle and consummate their relationship. Noah tells Allie about the 365 letters and they realize her mother kept them from her.

Days later, Anne appears to warn Allie that Lon has come to Seabrook. She also reveals that she also once loved a lower-class young man in town and still wonders how changed their lives would have been if she had chosen differently. She gives Allie Noah's letters, suggesting she choose wisely.

Noah and Allie argue and he tells her to decide what she wants, not what everyone else does. She drives back to her hotel, sobbing and confused, and confesses her infidelity to Lon. He still wants her back, but she follows her heart and returns to Noah.

In the present, the elderly woman is revealed to be Allie, now suffering from dementia. Duke is actually Noah, who uses a pseudonym to not startle her in her disoriented state. The journal he reads to her she wrote during the early stages of her illness, detailing their romance and life together so he could help her come back to him. Noah has kept the promise to read it to her almost daily.

Almost at the end of the journal in the notebook, Allie asks Noah what happened at the end of the story and Noah prompts her that she knows. She briefly recognizes him and remembers. Allie asks how long they have before she forgets again and Duke tells her possibly five minutes. They dance to their song, "I'll Be Seeing You", and she asks about their kids.

However, Allie's dementia quickly relapses and she panics to see a stranger touching her, so is sedated. Duke has a heart attack and is treated in the nursing home while Allie is taken to the dementia ward. Upon recovering and despite not being permitted, Duke sneaks into Allie's room in the night. She instantly recognizes him, they kiss, and fall asleep holding hands. They are found in the morning, having died peacefully in each other's arms.

Cast

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Production

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The film rights to Nicholas Sparks' novel were acquired by New Line Cinema in 1996, represented by producer Mark Johnson.[8] Jeremy Leven was hired to write the script, which caught the attention of director Steven Spielberg in 1998,[9] who wished to film it with Tom Cruise as Noah Calhoun.[10] Spielberg's commitment to other projects led to Jim Sheridan becoming attached to direct the following year. Filming was to start in 1999 but pushed back over rewrites.[11] Sheridan eventually backed out by October 2000 to work on In America.[12] Martin Campbell entered negotiations to direct in March 2001,[10] before he was replaced by Nick Cassavetes a year later.[13] Early in development George Clooney was going play Noah, and Paul Newman the older Noah, but after Clooney watched some Paul Newman movies he went up to Newman and said he did not look like him.[14]

Casting

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Cassavetes wanted someone unknown and "not handsome" to portray Noah; he chose Ryan Gosling for the role.[15] Hayden Christensen was originally considered for the role.[16] Gosling was initially surprised by this: "I read [the script] and I thought, 'He's crazy. I couldn't be more wrong for this movie.'"[17] "It gave me an opportunity to play a character over a period of time – from 1940 to 1946 – that was quite profound and formative."[18] To prepare for the part, Gosling temporarily moved to Charleston, South Carolina, prior to filming. During two months, he rowed the Ashley River and made furniture.[19] When James Garner was approached for the role of the older Noah, he asked his agent if the script was for a television film, until he read it again and realized it had a universal appeal.[20] A nationwide search was conducted to find the right actress to play Allie. Actresses who auditioned or considered for the role included Jessica Biel,[21] Britney Spears,[22] Jaime King, Jane McGregor, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Beckinsale, Kate Bosworth, Amy Adams, Mandy Moore, Scarlett Johansson, Claire Danes, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ashley Judd, and Reese Witherspoon,[23][16][24] with the choice narrowed down to Britney Spears and Rachel McAdams with McAdams winning the role.[18][25] On casting her, Cassavetes said: "When Rachel McAdams came in and read, it was apparent that she was the one. She and Ryan had great chemistry between them." She commented: "I thought it would be a dream to be able to do it. I read the script and went into the audition just two days later. It was a good way to do it, because I was very full of the story."[26] Gosling commented that, "I think that it's pretty fair to say that we probably wouldn't have made the film if we hadn't found Rachel... Really, Allie drives the movie. It's her movie and we're in it. It all kind of depended on an actress."[27] In comparison to the book, the role was extended.[28] McAdams spent time in Charleston before filming to familiarize herself with the surroundings,[29] and took ballet and etiquette classes.[30] She had a dialect coach to learn the Southern accent.[31] Bradley Cooper was considered for Lon Hammond, while the studio pushed for Cole Hauser; but James Mardsen was eventually cast.[16]

Filming

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The Notebook was filmed mostly on location in South Carolina, as well as the wintery battlefield just outside Montreal.[18][32] Production offices for the film were set up at the old Charleston Naval Base in North Charleston.[33]

Much of the film's plot takes place in and around Seabrook Island, an actual town which is one of the South Carolina "sea island" localities, located 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Charleston. None of the filming took place in the Seabrook area, however, and instead utilized the surrounding areas. Specifically, the house that Noah is seen fixing up is a private residence at Wadmalaw Island,[34] another locality situated 10 miles (16 km) closer to Charleston. The house was not actually in a dilapidated state at the time, and instead was made to look that way by special effects. Contrary to the suggestion in the film's dialogue, neither the house nor the Seabrook area was home to South Carolina Revolutionary hero Francis Marion, whose plantation was actually located northwest of Charleston.[35] The Boone Hall Plantation served as Allie's summer house.[34]

Many of the scenes set in Seabrook were filmed in the town of Mt. Pleasant, (a suburb of Charleston). Other locations included: Edisto Island, Cypress Gardens (in Moncks Corner, South Carolina)[34] with trained birds that were brought in from elsewhere.[36]

The nursing home scenes were filmed at Rice Hope Plantation,[37] located in Georgetown County. The college depicted briefly in the film is identified in the film as Sarah Lawrence College, but the campus that is seen is actually the College of Charleston.[34]

Music

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The soundtrack to The Notebook was released on June 8, 2004.

No.TitleArtistLength
1."Main Title"Aaron Zigman2:49
2."Overture"Aaron Zigman6:16
3."I'll Be Seeing You"Billie Holiday3:33
4."Alabamy Home"Duke Ellington3:02
5."Allie Returns"Aaron Zigman5:07
6."House Blues / The Porch Dance / The Proposal / The Carnival"Aaron Zigman8:04
7."Noah's Journey"Aaron Zigman6:03
8."Always and Always"Benny Goodman & His Orchestra3:17
9."A String of Pearls"Glenn Miller & His Orchestra3:16
10."On the Lake"Aaron Zigman5:39
11."Diga Diga Doo"Rex Stewart and the Ellingtonians4:16
12."One O'Clock Jump"Benny Goodman & His Orchestra3:15
13."I'll Be Seeing You"Jimmy Durante3:13
14."Noah's Last Letter"Aaron Zigman4:32
15."Our Love Can Do Miracles"Aaron Zigman4:31
Total length:66:53[38]

Reception

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Box office

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The film was released June 25, 2004, in the United States and Canada and grossed $13.5 million from 2,303 theaters in its opening weekend, ranking number 4 at the box office.[39] The film grossed a total of $115.6 million worldwide, $81 million in Canada and the United States and $34.6 million in other countries.[40] It is the 15th highest-grossing romantic drama film of all time.[41]

Critical response

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The performances of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, as well as their on-screen chemistry, were particularly praised by most film critics.

According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 53% of 179 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "It's hard not to admire its unabashed sentimentality, but The Notebook is too clumsily manipulative to rise above its melodramatic clichés."[42] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[43] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[44]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times praised the film, awarding it three-and-a-half stars out of four, calling the photography "striking in its rich, saturated effects" and stating that the "actors are blessed by good material."[45] Peter Lowry of Film Threat gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of five; praising the performances of both Gosling and McAdams, he wrote: "Gosling and especially McAdams give all-star performances, doing just enough to hand the reins over to the pros, who take what's left of the film and finish the audience off with some touching scenes that don't leave a dry eye in the house." About the film itself he added: "Overall, The Notebook is a surprisingly good film that manages to succeed where many other "chick flick" like romances fail."[46]

Stephen Holden of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, stating that "the scenes between the young lovers confronting adult authority have the same seething tension and lurking hysteria that the young Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood brought more than 40 years ago to their roles in Splendor in the Grass."[47] Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post also gave the film a positive review, she also praised the performances of Gosling and McAdams, stating: "Never mind that McAdams and Gosling don't for a minute call to mind 1940s America; they're both suitably attractive and appealing. Gosling, who delivered a searing and largely unseen screen debut performance in the 2001 drama The Believer, is particularly convincing as a young man who charms his way past a girl's strongest defenses." About the film, she added: "Audiences craving big, gooey over-the-top romance have their must-see summer movie in The Notebook."[48] William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer praised the performance of McAdams but criticized the performance of Gosling, stating that he "just doesn't have the kind of star power or chemistry with McAdams to anchor this kind of minor-league Gone with the Wind." He also added about the film that it "doesn't completely work on its own terms, mainly because its romantic casting just doesn't spark: It doesn't make us fall in love with its lovers."[49] Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe gave the film two-and-a-half stars, praising the performances of its cast members, writing about McAdams that "she's soulfully committed to the suds in the story and fiercely attentive to the other actors". He added about Gosling: "Gosling is adept at playing sociopaths and intense brooders, and there's reason to think, early on, that Noah might be similarly off, as when he threatens to drop from a Ferris wheel unless Allie agrees to go on a date with him." About the film, he wrote: "Considering the sunny, relatively pleasurable romantic business that precedes it, the elderly stuff seems dark, morbid, and forced upon us."[50]

Jessica Winter of The Village Voice gave the film a mixed review, stating: "Amid the sticky-sweet swamp of Jeremy Leven's script, Rowlands and Garner emerge spotless and beatific, lending a magnanimous credibility to their scenes together. These two old pros slice cleanly through the thicket of sap-weeping dialogue and contrivance, locating the terror and desolation wrought by the cruel betrayals of a failing mind."[51] Robert Koehler of Variety also gave the film a mixed review, he however, praised the performances, writing that "already one of the most intriguing young thesps, Gosling extends his range to pure romance without sacrificing a bit of his naturally subversive qualities, and even seems comfortable looking beautiful in a manly American way. The head-turner is McAdams, doing such a different perf from her top bitch in Mean Girls that it's hard to tell it's the same actor. She skillfully carries much of the film's emotional weight with a free and easy manner."[52]

In June 2010, Entertainment Weekly included Allie and Noah in its list of the "100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years."[53] The periodical listed The Notebook in their 25 Sexiest Movies Ever.[54] Us Weekly included the film in its list of the 30 Most Romantic Movies of All Time.[55] Boston.com ranked the film the third Top Romantic Movie.[56] The Notebook appeared on Moviefone's list of the 25 Best Romance Movies of All Time.[57] Marie Claire also put the film on its list of the 12 Most Romantic Movie Scenes of All Time.[58] In 2011, The Notebook was named the best chick-flick during ABC News and People's television special Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time.[59] The scene where Noah climbs the Ferris Wheel because he wants a date with Allie made the list of Total Film's 50 Most Romantic Movie Moments of All Time.[60] The kiss in the rain was ranked No. 4 in Total Film's 50 Best Movie Kisses list.[61]

Awards and nominations

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Year Award Category Recipients Result
2004 Golden Trailer Awards[62] Best Romance Nominated
Teen Choice Awards[63] Choice Movie of the Summer Nominated
Choice Breakout Movie Actress Rachel McAdams Nominated
2005 Artios Awards[64] Outstanding Achievement in Casting – Feature Film, Drama Matthew Barry and Nancy Green-Keyes Nominated
Golden Satellite Awards[63] Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Gena Rowlands Won
MTV Movie Awards[65] Best Female Performance Rachel McAdams Nominated
Best Kiss Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards[66] Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role James Garner Nominated
Teen Choice Awards[67] Choice Movie Drama Won
Choice Date Movie Won
Choice Movie Actor – Drama Ryan Gosling Won
Choice Movie Actress – Drama Rachel McAdams Won
Choice Movie Breakout Performance – Male Ryan Gosling Won
Choice Movie Chemistry Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling Won
Choice Movie Liplock Won
Choice Movie Love Scene Won

Home media

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The Notebook was released on VHS and DVD on February 8, 2005, and Blu-ray on May 4, 2010.[68] By February 2010, the film had sold over 11 million copies on DVD.[69]

In February 2019, subscribers to the UK version of Netflix reported that the version of the film on the streaming service had an alternate ending, which substituted a more light-hearted conclusion than the emotional end of the original release. Netflix responded that this alternate version of the film had been supplied to them in error, and soon replaced it with the original version.[70]

Television series

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On August 11, 2015, it was reported that a television series was in development by The CW.[71] The series was to follow Noah and Allie's courtship following the events of the film, and in a post-WWII world. As of December 2023, no further news has been revealed.

Stage musical

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On January 3, 2019, Ingrid Michaelson announced she would be writing the music and lyrics for a musical adaption of The Notebook with a book by Bekah Brunstetter.[72] Sparks will also be involved as a producer alongside Kevin McCollum and Kurt Deutsch.[73]

The production was initially slated for fall 2020, but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Michaelson and Brunstetter used the additional time to hold online previews and tweak their work.[74]

The musical opened September 6, 2022 at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and received generally positive reviews.[75][76] Stephen Oxman of the Chicago Sun-Times said, "I simply was not expecting to fall in love with 'The Notebook,'... But I have." Adding, "It’s a significant leap in artistic quality over its sources, which it respects, while also providing a clear, resonant, and unique voice of its own."[77] Jonathan Abarbanel of Theater Mania noted what while the musical used the novel for its basis rather than the film, he noted that Michaelson and Brunstetter shifted the time period twenty years to begin in the late 1960s causing Noah to leave for the Vietnam War rather than World War II.[78] The production closed on October 30, 2022.

In August 2023, it was announced that the show would open on Broadway in the spring of 2024 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The show opened on March 14th, with a cast that included Maryann Plunkett as Older Allie, Dorian Harewood as Older Noah, Joy Woods as Middle Allie, Ryan Vasquez as Middle Noah, Jordan Tyson as Younger Allie, and John Cardoza as Younger Noah.[79]

References

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  78. ^ Abarbanel, Jonathan (October 18, 2022). "Review: 'The Notebook' Keeps Its Romantic Heart Intact in New Ingrid Michaelson Musical". Theater Mania. Retrieved 2022-10-25.
  79. ^ Glikas, Bruce. "Photos: Inside THE NOTEBOOK Opening Night Party". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2024-04-21.
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