The Notebook

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The Notebook
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nick Cassavetes
Screenplay by Jeremy Leven
Story by Jan Sardi
Based on The Notebook
by Nicholas Sparks
Produced byLynn Harris
Mark Johnson
Cinematography Robert Fraisse
Edited by Alan Heim
Music by Aaron Zigman
Gran Via
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date
  • May 20, 2004 (2004-05-20)(SIFF)
  • June 25, 2004 (2004-06-25)(United States)
Running time
124 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$29 million [2]
Box office$117.8 million [2]

The Notebook is a 2004 American romantic drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes, written by Jeremy Leven and Jan Sardi, based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as a young couple who fall in love in the 1940s. Their story is read from a notebook in the present day by an elderly man (played by James Garner), telling the tale to a fellow nursing home resident (played by Gena Rowlands, who is the director Cassavetes's mother).


The Notebook received generally mixed reviews, but performed well at the box office and received a number of award nominations, winning eight Teen Choice Awards, a Satellite Award, and an MTV Movie Award. The film became a sleeper hit [3] [4] and has gained a cult following. [5] [6] On November 11, 2012, ABC Family premiered an extended version with deleted scenes added back into the original storyline. [7]


At a modern-day nursing home, an elderly man, Duke, reads a romantic story from his notebook to a fellow patient.

In 1940, at a carnival in Seabrook Island, South Carolina, poor lumber mill worker Noah Calhoun sees 17-year-old heiress Allison "Allie" Hamilton, who is spending the summer in town with her parents. He pursues her and they begin a summer romance. One night, Allie goes over to Noah's house and meets his father Frank Calhoun who immediately likes her and takes her under his wings as one of his own. Three days later, Noah is invited to Allie's house by her parents John and Anne Hamilton so they can meet him, but unlike Frank they are unimpressed with Noah. That evening, Noah takes her to the abandoned Windsor Plantation that he intends to buy and restore for them. While there, they attempt to have sex for the first time, but are interrupted by Noah's friend Fin with the news that Allie's parents have the police looking for her.

When Allie and Noah return to her parents' mansion, Allie's parents, particularly her mother Anne, make it clear they do not approve of the relationship and forbid her from seeing him. Overhearing Allie's mother's insults, Noah walks out and Allie chases after him. An argument ensues, and Allie breaks up with Noah, though she quickly regrets it. The next morning, Anne announces that the family is returning home to Charleston immediately. Allie can't find Noah, so she asks Fin to tell him she loves him. Noah rushes to Allie's home, but finds it empty.

Noah writes a letter to Allie every day for a year, but Allie's mother intercepts them. After 365 letters, Noah stops writing. He enlists with Fin to fight in World War II, where Fin is killed in battle. Allie volunteers as a nurse's aide in a hospital for wounded soldiers, where she meets Captain Lon Hammond Jr., a young lawyer who comes from old Southern money. After a few years, the two become engaged, to the delight of Allie's parents.

Noah returns from the war to find that his father sold their home so Noah could buy the Windsor Plantation. He convinces himself that if he restores the house, Allie will come back to him. While Allie is being fitted for her wedding dress, she spots a story in a newspaper about the house Noah completed. She faints.

Allie is overwhelmed with memories and unresolved feelings for Noah, and asks permission from Lon to take a trip before the wedding. She returns to Seabrook to find Noah living in their dream house. The two rekindle their relationship. Several days later, Anne appears on Noah's doorstep to warn Allie that Lon has followed her to Seabrook. She also reveals that, like her daughter, she once loved a lower-class young man, and still thinks about him. She gives Allie the letters Noah wrote.

After an emotional argument with Noah, Allie makes the difficult choice to drive back to her hotel and confess her infidelity to Lon. Lon says he still loves her and wants her back, but Allie decides to return to Noah.

In the present, it turns out the elderly woman listening to the story is Allie, now stricken with dementia, and Duke is her husband Noah. During the early stages of her illness, Allie had written a journal detailing their romance and life together so Noah could read it to her to help her remember. One day as he is reading the notebook, she briefly recognizes him. She asks how long they have before she forgets again, and Noah tells her no more than five minutes. They dance.

Allie quickly relapses and panics, and medical personnel must sedate her. Noah has a heart attack and is hospitalized, and Allie is sent to a dementia ward in the same hospital. Upon recovering, and despite not being allowed in, Noah visits Allie's room in the night, and she remembers him again. They kiss, hold hands, and fall asleep. In the morning, a nurse finds them both dead, their hands still clasped together.



The film rights to Nicholas Sparks's novel were acquired by New Line Cinema in 1996, represented by producer Mark Johnson. [8] Jeremy Leven was hired to write the script, which caught the attention of director Steven Spielberg in 1998, [9] who wished to film it with Tom Cruise as Noah Calhoun. [10] Spielberg's commitment to other projects led to Jim Sheridan becoming attached to direct the following year. Filming was to start in 1999 but pushed back over rewrites. [11] Sheridan eventually backed out by October 2000 to work on In America . [12] Martin Campbell entered negotiations to direct in March 2001, [10] before he was replaced by Nick Cassavetes a year later. [13] early in development George Clooney was going play Noah and Paul Newman as the older Noah but when Clooney was watching some Paul Newman’s movies he went up to Paul and saying he doesn’t look like him. [14]


Cassavetes wanted someone unknown and "not handsome" to portray Noah; he therefore cast Ryan Gosling in the role. [15] Gosling was initially surprised by this: "I read [the script] and I thought, 'He's crazy. I couldn't be more wrong for this movie.'" [16] "It gave me an opportunity to play a character over a period of time – from 1940 to 1946 – that was quite profound and formative." [17] To prepare for the part, Gosling temporarily moved to Charleston, South Carolina prior to filming. During two months, he rowed the Ashley River and made furniture. [18] A nationwide search was conducted to find the right actress to play Allie. Actresses who auditioned for the role included Jessica Biel, [19] Britney Spears, [20] Ashley Judd, and Reese Witherspoon, [21] and Rachel McAdams was ultimately cast. [17] On casting her, Cassavetes said: "When Rachel McAdams came in and read, it was apparent that she was the one. She and Ryan had great chemistry between them." She commented: "I thought it would be a dream to be able to do it. I read the script and went into the audition just two days later. It was a good way to do it, because I was very full of the story." [22] Gosling commented that, "I think that it's pretty fair to say that we probably wouldn't have made the film if we hadn't found Rachel... Really, Allie drives the movie. It's her movie and we're in it. It all kind of depended on an actress." [23] In comparison to the book, the role was extended. [24] McAdams spent time in Charleston before filming to familiarize herself with the surroundings, [25] and took ballet and etiquette classes. [26] She had a dialect coach to learn the Southern accent. [27]


The Notebook was filmed mostly on location in South Carolina, in late 2002 and early 2003, as well as the wintery battlefield just outside Montreal, Quebec. [17] [28] Production offices for the film were set up at the old Charleston Naval Base in North Charleston. [29]

Much of the film's plot takes place in and around Seabrook Island, an actual town which is one of the South Carolina "sea islands." It is located 20 miles southwest of Charleston, South Carolina. However, none of the filming took place in the Seabrook area. The house that Noah is seen fixing up is a private residence at Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, [30] which is another "sea island" locality situated 10 miles closer to Charleston. The house was not actually in a dilapidated state at any time, but it was made to look that way by special effects in the first half of the film. Contrary to the suggestion in the film's dialogue, neither the house nor the Seabrook area was home to South Carolina Revolutionary hero Francis Marion, whose plantation was actually located some distance northwest of Charleston. [31] The Boone Hall Plantation served as Allie's summer house. [30]

Many of the scenes set in Seabrook were filmed in the town of Mt. Pleasant, (a suburb of Charleston). Others were filmed in Charleston and in Edisto Island. The lake scenes were filmed at Cypress Gardens (in Moncks Corner, South Carolina) [30] with trained birds that were brought in from elsewhere. [32]

The nursing home scenes were filmed at Rice Hope Plantation, [33] located in Georgetown County, South Carolina. The college depicted briefly in the film is identified in the film as Sarah Lawrence College, but the campus that is seen is actually the College of Charleston. [30]


Box office

The film was released June 25, 2004 in the United States and Canada and grossed $13.5 million from 2,303 theaters in its opening weekend, ranking number 4 at the box office. [34] The film grossed a total of $115.6 million worldwide, $81 million in Canada and the United States and $34.6 million in other countries. [2] It is the 15th highest-grossing romantic drama film of all-time. [35]

Critical response

Ryan Gosling by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Rachel McAdams, TIFF 2012 (bright crop).jpg
The performances of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, as well as their on-screen chemistry, were particularly praised by most film critics.

According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 53% of 179 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "It's hard not to admire its unabashed sentimentality, but The Notebook is too clumsily manipulative to rise above its melodramatic clichés." [36] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." [37] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale. [38]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times praised the film, awarding it three-and-a-half stars out of four, calling the photography "striking in its rich, saturated effects" and stating that the "actors are blessed by good material." [39] Peter Lowry of Film Threat gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of five; praising the performances of both Gosling and McAdams, he wrote: "Gosling and especially McAdams give all-star performances, doing just enough to hand the reins over to the pros, who take what's left of the film and finish the audience off with some touching scenes that don't leave a dry eye in the house." About the film itself he added: "Overall, The Notebook is a surprisingly good film that manages to succeed where many other "chick flick" like romances fail." [40]

Stephen Holden of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, stating that "the scenes between the young lovers confronting adult authority have the same seething tension and lurking hysteria that the young Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood brought more than 40 years ago to their roles in Splendor in the Grass ." [41] Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post also gave the film a positive review, she also praised the performances of Gosling and McAdams, stating: "Never mind that McAdams and Gosling don't for a minute call to mind 1940s America; they're both suitably attractive and appealing. Gosling, who delivered a searing and largely unseen screen debut performance in the 2001 drama The Believer , is particularly convincing as a young man who charms his way past a girl's strongest defenses." About the film, she added: "Audiences craving big, gooey over-the-top romance have their must-see summer movie in The Notebook." [42] William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer praised the performance of McAdams but criticized the performance of Gosling, stating that he "just doesn't have the kind of star power or chemistry with McAdams to anchor this kind of minor-league Gone with the Wind ." He also added about the film that it "doesn't completely work on its own terms, mainly because its romantic casting just doesn't spark: It doesn't make us fall in love with its lovers." [43] Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe gave the film two-and-a-half stars, praising the performances of its cast members, writing about McAdams that "she's soulfully committed to the suds in the story and fiercely attentive to the other actors". He added about Gosling: "Gosling is adept at playing sociopaths and intense brooders, and there's reason to think, early on, that Noah might be similarly off, as when he threatens to drop from a Ferris wheel unless Allie agrees to go on a date with him." About the film, he wrote: "Considering the sunny, relatively pleasurable romantic business that precedes it, the elderly stuff seems dark, morbid, and forced upon us." [44]

Jessica Winter of The Village Voice gave the film a mixed review, stating: "Amid the sticky-sweet swamp of Jeremy Leven's script, Rowlands and Garner emerge spotless and beatific, lending a magnanimous credibility to their scenes together. These two old pros slice cleanly through the thicket of sap-weeping dialogue and contrivance, locating the terror and desolation wrought by the cruel betrayals of a failing mind." [45] Robert Koehler of Variety magazine also gave the film a mixed review, he however, praised the performances, writing that "already one of the most intriguing young thesps, Gosling extends his range to pure romance without sacrificing a bit of his naturally subversive qualities, and even seems comfortable looking beautiful in a manly American way. The head-turner is McAdams, doing such a different perf from her top bitch in Mean Girls that it's hard to tell it's the same actor. She skillfully carries much of the film's emotional weight with a free and easy manner." [46]

In June 2010, Entertainment Weekly included Allie and Noah in its list of the "100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years." [47] The periodical listed The Notebook in their 25 Sexiest Movies Ever. [48] Us Weekly included the film in their list of the 30 Most Romantic Movies of All Time. [49] ranked the film the third Top Romantic Movie. [50] The Notebook appeared on Moviefone's list of the 25 Best Romance Movies of All Time. [51] Marie Claire also put the film on its list of the 12 Most Romantic Movie Scenes of All Time. [52] In 2011, The Notebook was named the best chick-flick during ABC News and People 's television special Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time . [53] The scene where Noah climbs the Ferris Wheel because he wants a date with Allie made the list of Total Film 's 50 Most Romantic Movie Moments of All Time. [54] The kiss in the rain was ranked No. 4 in Total Film's 50 Best Movie Kisses list. [55]


2004 Golden Trailer Awards [56] Best RomanceNominated
Teen Choice Awards [57] Choice Movie of the SummerNominated
Choice Breakout Movie Star Rachel McAdams Nominated
2005 Artios Awards [58] Outstanding Achievement in Casting – Feature Film, DramaMatthew Barry and Nancy Green-KeyesNominated
Golden Satellite Awards [57] Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Gena Rowlands Won
MTV Movie Awards [59] Best Female PerformanceRachel McAdamsNominated
Best KissRachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards [60] Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role James Garner Nominated
Teen Choice Awards [61] Choice Movie Drama Won
Choice Date Movie Won
Choice Movie Actor – DramaRyan GoslingWon
Choice Movie Actress – DramaRachel McAdamsWon
Choice Movie Breakout Performance – MaleRyan GoslingWon
Choice Movie ChemistryRachel McAdams and Ryan GoslingWon
Choice Movie LiplockWon
Choice Movie Love SceneWon

Home media

The Notebook was released on VHS and DVD on February 8, 2005, and Blu-ray on May 4, 2010. [62] By February 2010, the film had sold over 11 million copies on DVD. [63]

In February 2019, subscribers to the UK version of Netflix reported that the version of the film on the streaming service had an alternate ending, which substituted a more light-hearted conclusion than the emotional end of the original release. Netflix responded that this alternate version of the film had been supplied to them in error, and soon replaced it with the original version. [64]


The soundtrack to The Notebook was released on June 8, 2004.

1."Main Title" Aaron Zigman 2:49
2."Overture"Aaron Zigman6:16
3."I'll Be Seeing You" Billie Holiday 3:33
4."Alabamy Home" Duke Ellington 3:02
5."Allie Returns"Aaron Zigman5:07
6."House Blues / The Porch Dance / The Proposal / The Carnival"Aaron Zigman8:04
7."Noah's Journey"Aaron Zigman6:03
8."Always And Always" Benny Goodman & His Orchestra3:17
9."A String of Pearls" Glenn Miller & His Orchestra3:16
10."On The Lake"Aaron Zigman5:39
11."Diga Diga Doo" Rex Stewart And The Ellingtonians4:16
12."One O'Clock Jump"Benny Goodman & His Orchestra3:15
13."I'll Be Seeing You" Jimmy Durante 3:13
14."Noah's Last Letter"Aaron Zigman4:32
15."Our Love Can Do Miracles"Aaron Zigman4:31
Total length:66:53 [65]

Television series

On August 11, 2015, it was reported that a television series was in development by The CW. [66] The series was to follow Noah and Allie's courtship following the events of the film, and in a post-WWII world. As of 2021, it has yet to air.

Broadway show

On January 3, 2019, it was announced that The Notebook would be adapted into a Broadway musical with a book by Bekah Brunstetter as well as music and lyrics by Ingrid Michaelson.

Sparks will also be involved as a producer alongside Kevin McCollum and Kurt Deutsch. [67]

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