''The Notebook'' is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It has sexual situations.
Directed by Nick Cassavetes; written by Jer emy Leven and adapted by Jan Sardi, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks; director of photography, Robert Fraisse; edited by Alan Heim; music by Aaron Zigman; production designer, Sarah Knowles; produced by Mark Johnson and Lynn Harris; released by New Line Cinema. Running time: 121 minutes. This film is rated PG-13.
WITH: Ryan Gosling (Noah Calhoun), Rachel McAdams (Allie Hamilton), James Garner (Duke), Gena Rowlands (Allie Calhoun), James Marsden (Lon), Kevin Connolly (Fin), Sam Shepard (Frank Calhoun) and Joan Allen (Anne Hamilton).
That’s hardly the only instance of kitsch on display. There are dog reaction shots, cute closeups of puppies in baskets, night skies that glow like college-dorm blacklight posters, and a sequence where our two lovers seek shelter from a sudden rain shower in a gospel church whose harmoniously multiracial choir sings Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright.” Only once does Katz nail a moment of swoon-worthy romantic abandon, in an early sex scene, but even then it’s Mark E. Garner’s cozy production design and a nicely-timed National needle-drop that provide much of the heavy lifting.
Periodically, Cassavetes cuts back to Garner and Rowlands, who muses about the "wonderful story" being told. But those not suffering from Alzheimer's may find it a bit too familiar. At one point, Gosling and McAdams even marvel at the improbability of a city girl and a country boy falling in love, as if they'd necked through all the movies in which that happens. Lingering memories of Gosling's turn as a neo-Nazi in The Believer give his character an edge that the film desperately needs, but his hard features melt at all the appropriate beats. In a romance where paradise is a duck-filled pond, it helps to be mild-mannered.