You know the old saying “they don’t make ’em like they used to”, well this film refutes that. “The Notebook” is pure Hallmark territory, a soppy sentimental romancer about teen love in the 1940’s. Oddly enough, it vaguely works – the two young leads are strong, there’s a more visible sexuality than most films of this type, the older couple scenes setting up the flashbacks are all too obvious though sweet, and the look of the picture seems quite well done.
Audiences though may find the problematic pacing a bit of a drag with the film stopping short frequently as the characters deliver endless monologues to each other. The script makes more than few questionable changes to its assorted characters and odd leaps of logic at times. Short of our leads we never explore much about the supporting cast, whilst elements such as the sex and cuts to the battlefields of the war seem out of place in an otherwise very clean drama.
Cassavetes direction is solid but hardly subtle. He’s assembled a strong array of actors who all do jobs that far exceed the material, and as a result much of the film’s later parts we’ve already figured out from the projections that Garner, Rowlans, Allen and co. have all been making. It’s an interesting piece of counter programming on New Line’s part, the only question is why didn’t it go direct to cable?