The Notebook

Critics Consensus

It's hard not to admire its unabashed sentimentality, but The Notebook is too clumsily manipulative to rise above its melodramatic clichés.



Total Count: 176


Audience Score

User Ratings: 31,656,590
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Movie Info

Directed by Nick Cassavetes, this adaptation of author Nicholas Sparks' bestselling novel revolves around Noah Calhoun's (James Garner) regular visits to a female patron (Gena Rowlands) of an area nursing home. Rather than bore her with the inanities of everyday life, Calhoun reads from an old, faded notebook containing the sweeping account of a young couple (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) whose love affair was tragically put to a halt after their separation in the midst of World War II. Seven years later, the couple was reunited, and, despite having taken radically different paths, they found themselves unable to resist the call of a second chance. The Notebook also features Joan Allen, Sam Shepard, and Kevin Connolly. ~ Tracie Cooper, Rovi

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James Marsden
as Lon Hammond
Sam Shepard
as Frank Calhoun
David Thornton
as John Hamilton
Joan Allen
as Anne Hamilton
Tim Ivey
as Rower
Starletta DuPois
as Nurse Esther
Ed Grady
as Harry
Renée Amber
as Nurse At Counter
Jennifer Echols
as Nurse Selma
Heather Wahlquist
as Sara Tuffington
Andrew Schaff
as Matthew Jamison III
Matt Shelly
as Seabrook Boy
Michael D. Fuller
as Seabrook Boy
Leslea Fisher
as Seabrook Girl
Jude Kitchens
as Ferris Wheel Operator
Tim O'Brien
as Mr. Tuffington
Meredith O'Brien
as Mrs. Tuffington
Pat Leonard
as Lieutenant Davis
Patrick Leonard
as Lieutenant Davis
Daniel Czekalski
as Recruitment Officer
Peter Rosenfeld
as Professor
Bradley D. Capshaw
as Injured Soldier
James Scott Deaton
as Injured Soldier
Eve Kagan
as Sarah Lawrence Girl
Stephanie Wheeler
as Sarah Lawrence Girl
Erin Guzowski
as Sarah Lawrence Girl
Obba Babatundé
as Band Leader
Chuck Pacheco
as Bus Driver
John A. Cundari
as Maitre D'
Todd Lewis
as Reporter
Mark Johnson
as Photographer
Robert Fraisse
as Buyer No. 1
Barbara Weetman
as Buyer No. 2
Dan Chamblin
as Buyer No. 3
Sasha Azevedo
as Wife of Buyer No. 3
Jamie Anne Allman
as Martha Shaw
Robert Ivey
as Dressmaker
Rebecca Koon
as Aunt Georgia
Sandra W. Van Natta
as Aunt Jeanette
Deborah Hobart
as Aunt Kitty
Lindy Newton
as Heather Lynn
Sherrill Turner
as Linda Jean
Mark Garner
as Lon's Employee
Scott Ritenour
as Lon's Employee
Milton Buras
as Lon's Employee
Elizabeth Bond
as Lon's Secretary
Matt Barry
as Dr. Barnwell
Matthew Barry
as Dr. Barnwell
Nancy De Mayo
as Mary Allen
Nancy DeMayo
as Mary Allen
Ronald Betts
as Male Nurse
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News & Interviews for The Notebook

Critic Reviews for The Notebook

All Critics (176) | Top Critics (45)

  • A honey-dipped love story with a surprisingly tart aftertaste, The Notebook is a better-than-you'd-expect adaptation of Nicholas Sparks's bestselling novel of the same name.

    Oct 1, 2018 | Full Review…
  • In a romance where paradise is a duck-filled pond, it helps to be mild-mannered.

    Oct 1, 2018 | Full Review…

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • Dentistry in the Renaissance could not have been more painful than watching this.

    Oct 1, 2018 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • It's no secret that Mr. Gosling is one of our most gifted young actors. Still, this is his first romantic lead, and he's superb -- interesting in his inwardness, endearing in his demonstrativeness.

    Apr 21, 2012 | Full Review…
  • The connection between the two narratives is supposed to be a big, heartbreaking surprise, though I figured it out well in advance and spent the interim unfavorably comparing this greatest-generation hanky wringer to the British drama Iris.

    Oct 3, 2011 | Full Review…
  • Amid the sticky-sweet swamp of Jeremy Leven's script, Rowlands and Garner emerge spotless and beatific, lending a near-miraculous credibility to their scenes together.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    John Wyver

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Notebook

  • May 05, 2013
    By 2004, they had, like, twelve adaptations of Nicholas Sparks books, and it took them this long to get around to adapting his first one. Hey, whatever, I welcome it, because this film is actually pretty good, and we seriously need compensation for "A Walk to Remember", not just between 2002 and 2004, but still to this day, yet that didn't stop the critics from having some kind of bias that kept them from liking this. Hey, I can't say that I went into this film thinking, "From the director of 'John Q' comes an adaptation of a book by the author of 'A Walk to Remember' that I'm sure will not stink", nor did I walk away finding it awesome, but make no mistake, this film is better than they say, even though it does have its cheesy moments. Hey, when this film came out, Ryan Gosling had just got done playing a Neo-Nazi and some teenager who brutally murdered people... in two separate films, so it was about time for him to do something a bit fluffier, much like Rachel McAdams, who just had to have been an emotional wreck after getting off of such intense projects as "The Hot Chick" and "Mean Girls". I can think of some people who would say that they were more disturbed by "The Hot Chick" than anything that Gosling did before this film, so I guess the match works, yet Gosling still didn't immediately find his handsome, charismatic and talented self fired into the stardom that McAdams got by this film, probably because Gosling still had the integrity and, well, after this film, money to go back to doing stuff that middle-aged housewives aren't likely to even hear about. I mean, don't get me wrong, Gosling broke out eventually, but come on, it still took a while even after this film, though that might just be because of the mixed reviews, because, as you all know very well, the members of the pop culture who decide who becomes popular or not always listen to critics. Sarcasm aside, the audience is right in saying that Nick Sparks actually did something good before doing about 100 mediocre things, though you shouldn't completely disregard the critics, as their complaints are hardly completely invalid. At just over two hours, the film is somewhat lengthy, and is certainly pretty meaty, yet its concept, in a lot of areas, holds too much meat to fully juice in two hours, as reflected by story structure's pacing's being, like the pacing of plenty of other Nicholas Sparks novel adaptations, uneven, having enough meditative points to compel thoroughly, but still taking advantage of its main story's being framed to all too often only hit highlights in exposition in a storybook, objective fashion that distances you from substance a bit, and thins out meditative value. The film will run a steady pace, only to suddenly jar things along, and while you're never quite jarred loose from the film, events are often awkwardly tossed at you, and such a formula proves to be detrimental to the momentum of substance's impact, whose blows are further softened by yet another hallmark in Nick Sparks stories: subtlety issues. There have been more histrionic interpretations of Sparks' questionable dramatic efforts, but when this film's genuineness slips, its subtlety lapses range from offputting to considerable, whether when it's slapping down a rather disconcertingly syrupy dramatic beat or going so far as to craft such borderline over-the-top characters as wealthy, disapproving parents antagonists, whose layers feel a particularly forced, yet are not the only questionable components to characterization depth. Our leads are at least well-portrayed enough to come off as layered and meaty, but when it's all said and done, there is only so much depth in this film, and I don't know if it's because of the superficiality in Sparks' story concept or because something got lost in translation when Sparks' story was brought to the screen, but either way, the point is that histrionics can be fought back only so much. Needless to say, the histrionics would be more forgivable if the storytelling beats that are somewhat cheesed up weren't so familiar, because if no other department in this effort feels somewhat lazy, it's the originality department, which turns over stone after stone, until predictability ensues. There's a twist to this film that is so easy to see coming that, before too long, the film even feels like it gives up trying to obscure it, and while that is the height in the final product's predictability, it's not the only predictable beat to the final product, which makes up for originality and dramatic shortcomings more often than not with considerable inspiration, but faces shortcomings nevertheless, falling short of its full potential. With that said, the final product doesn't quite fall so far from grace that it doesn't reward, having many a flaw, but ultimately quite a few more strengths, even in the photographic department. The film isn't stunning, or at least not consistently so, yet when cinematographer Robert Fraisse's eye catches the right environment, the visual results range from striking or truly gorgeous, boasting a soulful grace that catches your eyes when it is infused in Fraisse's photography, as surely as it grips your attention when it is infused in Aaron Zigman's score, which is a bit formulaic and minimalist, but lovely and heartfelt, with a distinguished flavor that proves to be comfortably compatible with the substance that it compliments so well. Aesthetically, the film accels with a graceful taste that does a fine job of breathing soul into flawed substance, whose effectiveness is ameliorated a bit by the filmmakers' aesthetic punch-ups, but, quite frankly, doesn't need pretty visuals and nice tunes to gain your attention. Nicholas Sparks' story concept is, of course, flawed, being derivative and with its share of subtlety issues, but when you step back and see through all of the hiccups, you can find one of Sparks' most worthy concepts, and while such a concept is not fleshed out nearly as much as it could have been in execution, it's rich with endearing heart that cannot be ignored, especially when emphasized by what is, in fact, done right in Jeremy Leven's and Jan Sardi's script, and, of course, Nick Cassavetes' direction. Even outside of this film, Cassavetes isn't exactly notorious for his genuineness as a teller of a conceptually resonant tale, and sure enough, the histrionic value in the film is all too often milked for all its worth, yet for every somewhat overblown dramatic beat, Cassavetes delivers a resonant punch that gives you a taste of what could have been, and firmly reminds you of what ultimately is, a very compelling drama that, in spite of its shortcomings, wins you over time and again. By the time we reach the final act, the film really starts to pierce with sentimentality that is backed enough by genuineness and soul to all but move you to tears, and while this story concept deserves to have more of that punch, perhaps even at a greater intensity, golden occasions can be found the in midst of a compellingness that, while often diluted, never dissipates, being backed by much in the way of inspiration, both off of the screen and on the screen. The acting isn't killer, but it is strong across the board, with James Garner and Gena Rowlands ultimately delivering on sparkling chemistry and emotional range in their portrayal of good, but old and deteriorating souls, while the dashing Ryan Gosling and gorgeous Rachel McAdams carry most of the film with their distinguished charismas, bonded through powerful chemistry, and backed with a human emotional resonance that is more layered than the actual written characterization of the Noah Calhoun and Allison "Allie" Hamilton characters, who are well-defined enough by their portrayers to engross as worthy leads. Many are not likely to walk away loving this film, but it is rather underappreciated, being flawed something fierce, but ultimately with enough inspiration and rich soul to thoroughly engage and ultimately reward. Overall, pacing unevenness keeps the film from soaking up its full depth, whose kick goes further diluted by subtlety issues and conventionalism, until you're left with a flawed final product, but one that still compels, using lovely cinematography and score work to compliment the taste within Nicholas Sparks' undeniably meaty story concept, which is brought to life well enough by Nick Cassevetes' direction and a strong cast for "The Notebook" to ultimately stand as a flawed, but quite good melodrama that rewards the patient. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • May 26, 2012
    I remember the time where I've only seen few parts and didn't get a chance to see it all the way through. Only because I was not interested enough to get into the film. So it did not look interesting to me at first, but now that I'm older, things started to change. Here I am rewatching it from the beginning to the end, and I have to say that I pretty much enjoyed it. However, it gets slow and boring at times. I had to really see it because I keep hearing people talking about how good the movie was, and how the kissing-in-the-rain moment was the best thing to ever happen in a romantic movie. Apparently, it was a decent moment, but it's kinda overrated What makes this movie so unique is that it tells a story of a couple fell in love over many years. Not only that, but how they got into rough moments from each other. The plot was interesting and well told, but it takes too long to get into the point. Additionally, the story is something that people can relate to. The performance from each cast were great. They all deserve an Oscar, if this movie would have gotten more positive reviews. The two main cast (Rachel McAdams & Ryan Gosling) put so much talent into their characters and had a good chemistry here. It did had a well-written script, which you hardly see in most Romantic films. The Notebook is one of the few Romantic films that I really enjoy. It is not Gone With The Wind, nor Love Story, but this film is good for what it is. If it wasn't for all that hype, then I would have given it more stars. Despite what people say, this film is almost there to its greatness if they made the plot a little faster, but it was fun and interesting. Overall, it's not your typical love story, which is a good thing.
    Giovanni C Super Reviewer
  • Dec 02, 2011
    The Notebook is a very good movie, a fun movie, but at times a boring movie. What seperates this from other chick flicks is that this is told throuh the eyes of a man who tells the relationship with him and his wife over many years. The plot was fun a original and actually good, but at times very slow. The cast was great, I think Racheal mcAdams deserved more praise but thats just me. A slow movie, very slow, but overall becomes one of the best chick flicks ever made.
    Bradley W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 07, 2011
    I don't remember too much about the movie but other then the fact that the drama was wayyyy too forced. Cliche after cliche and overall, was not interesting enough to keep me entertained.
    Albert K Super Reviewer

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