March 13, 2015

Movie Rewatch: The Freaking Notebook

I am not ashamed to admit that I read The Notebook when I was in high school.  Actually I'm a little ashamed about it.  For those of you who don't know what this book is, I don't know what to tell you.  At the time, I thought it was the greatest love story of all time.  It was written by Nicholas Sparks and is about two young kids who fall in love and then one moves away and drama ensues.  There are probably going to be spoilers in this blog, but if you haven't read the book by now, the time has probably passed.

Later on, there was a movie based on the book, staring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling who play Allie and Noah.  When I watched it for the first time in the movie theaters, I was extremely moved.  I sobbed at the end.  I thought, this is love.  Even though I was the same age as the characters, I hadn't ever experienced anything like that but I hoped one day I would.  I wanted the drama and the standing in the rain and the boating on the river in the rain.  Basically anything in the rain.

So, I hadn't seen the movie in a long time and it came on the telly on Valentine's Day weekend (OF COURSE IT DID), and I thought YES.  This is exactly what I need this weekend.  A good old fashioned love story.  I got prepared to watch the greatest love story of all time.

But as time often does, you begin to look at things differently than you would have a decade ago.  Suddenly this was no longer the greatest love story of all time.  It was now the most confusing love story of all time.  Here are my thoughts on this:

1)  Old People in the Beginning
This part is actually still adorable and so sad.  The movie starts with the main characters in old age (James Garner and Gena Rowlands who are wonderful), and continues to revisit them throughout the story in the care facility that they live in.  The older woman has dementia which is very hard to watch.  I couldn't handle this and tried to ignore the welling tears in my eyes while watching.  I started to remember why this film moved me so much until...

2)  Ryan Gosling is hanging off a Ferris wheel
In order to get Rachel McAdams' character Allie to go out on a date with him, Ryan Gosling's character Noah hangs off a Ferris wheel in front of her.  Please.  NO ONE survives this.  My sweaty palms would have slipped off from that bar in minutes.  Ridiculous, Gosling.  But charming. 

3)  Ryan Gosling says, "When I want something I have to have it, to be near it."
Red flag. Allie, run away.  This is what stalkers say.  Later, Noah literally grabs Allie's face to quiet her, which is unsettling.  Allie also beats the crap out of Noah when she's angry a couple of times.  Although Gosling could probably use a good smack, red flags all around on both sides are happening CONTINUOUSLY throughout the movie.  This movie was slowly teaching my young impressionable mind that love is constant battles and verbal abuse.  The last decade of my dating life has now been explained.

5)  Laying in the road
There is a scene where Noah and Allie lay in the middle of a road at Noah's request, to have fun.  This is ridiculous.  They almost get hit by a car, which is hilarious to Allie.  Then they go back into the street AGAIN to dance under the moonlight.  It's like they want to be hit by a car.  

6)  Rachel McAdams' dad's mustache
I don't know WHY I didn't notice this when I saw the movie for the first time, but WHAT is Allie's dad's mustache doing?  It is absurd and obviously not real.  He's like the brunette KFC guy.  Look it up.  Right now.

7)  Ryan Gosling taking Rachel McAdams to a haunted house so that they can do it
Red flag again.  This house is shady and gross.  When I first watched it, I thought it was so romantic.  Now I'm like, ew that floor they are laying on is moldy.

The use of the phrase "I'm a stupid woman" twice by two different characters
First Allie, and then her mother say, "I'm a stupid woman" when they have let themselves speak their minds or make a decision.  This is no good.  It is a period piece so perhaps it was meant to be a reflection of the time, but you don't hear Gosling saying he's a stupid man.  I never noticed it when I watched it as a kid, but it was glaring to me now.  You are not stupid women, Allie and her mother, where ever you are.

10) The ending *spoiler alert*
Then the ending sneaks up on you. The older version of Allie has a lucid moment where she remembers the older version of Noah and their love story (which he has been telling her this whole time, acted out by Rachel and Ryan in flashbacks).  They have an adorable dinner and then older Allie snaps out of her lucidity and starts screaming at older Noah because she doesn't recognize him.  Doctors have to restrain her and Noah sobs and it is DEVASTATING.  Then older Noah has a heart attack.  Then he sneaks into older Allie's room and I DARE YOU not to sob when the couple holds hands in bed and basically pass away at the same time in their sleep because their LOVE IS SO STRONG. 

So.  I sobbed at that part.  Like a lot.  An embarrassing amount.  I was sitting there and everything was fine and I was rolling my eyes at the whole movie, and then in a second, I lost it.  Just like I did a decade ago.  Those old people, man, they get ya.

So, the movie is confusing and does not paint the picture of the perfect love, but in the end, it does paint the picture of a resilient love. Which is something that even through the ridiculous haunted house and mustache moments, still moved me.  Sometimes I wonder if romantic movies mess up our ideas of love and paint unachievable or unhealthy pictures of what love should be.  For example, that love should always be in the rain.  Love is not always in the rain.  But, I guess sometimes it is.  And maybe there is no such thing as "love should be".  There are a million ways to love, and dammit if I don't still love the magic of Gosling and McAdams on screen.

Notebook, you saucy minx.