Based on the 1996 bestseller by Nicholas Sparks and directed by Nick 'son of John' Cassavetes, The Notebook is an unashamed tearjerker which wears its heart on its sleeve.
The plot follows an elderly couple (Garner and Rowlands, the director's mother), whose passionate relationship is crumbling due to her deteriorating mental facilities. In a desperate bid to help his wife to remember him and the happy times they spent together, Noah (Garner) reads to her out a journal, documenting the lives they spent together. Recounted mostly in flashback,
The Notebook documents the early meetings between the class divided pair (now played by supple young things Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) as they court in the shadow of the Second World War. Of course when that conflict breaks out, duty calls and they're separated, with all sorts of trials and tribulations - not least another man in the shape of a handsome stockbroker Lonnie (James Marsden) testing their love.
As you might expect from the man who was responsible for A Message in a Bottle and less tragically, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook isn't shy about playing the emotional card at every given opportunity. While the period detail of the film looks the part, Cassavetes has failed to inject anything new into the formula, asking his protagonists to trade off second hand emotions, while the film's narrative lacks consistency and, on more than one occasion, cohesion. The younger actors may be eager but they're constricted by the limitations of the script.