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The Notebook: 7+ Thoughts I Had While Rewatching The Ryan Gosling And Rachel McAdams Movie

Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling in The Notebook
(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

The Notebook is one of the best romantic movies of all time. It’s a beautiful tale of an unbreakable love story between people of different social classes. On paper, they would never work. However, their love is powerful enough to break any barriers that stand in their way. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams star as Noah and Allie, the main protagonists of this love story.

I wouldn’t say The Notebook ranks in my top 5 favorite romantic movies of all time, but it’s definitely in the top 20. The undeniable chemistry between Gosling and McAdams makes it a must-watch for all romance movie fans. Because I haven’t seen a romantic movie that I’ve really loved in a while, I decided to revisit some of my favorite movie romances, and that included a rewatching of The Notebook. I have some thoughts.

Warning The Notebook spoilers ahead. Proceed with caution.

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Ryan Gosling And Rachel McAdams Give Some OF Their Best Performances In The Notebook 

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams are both really good actors. I would even argue that Gosling is one of the best actors who hasn’t won an Oscar. While rewatching The Notebook, I couldn’t help but be even more convinced of this opinion. Gosling and McAdams completely convince us that they’re in love. Not only that, you see how much they put into these performances.

In the scene where Noah hears Allie’s parents calling him trash, how can your heart not break watching Noah react to it? In the scene where Allie pretends to be a bird, how can you not feel her joy? You feel all of these characters’ emotions because McAdams, Gosling, and the entire cast give really strong performances.

For two-plus hours, Gosling becomes Noah and McAdams becomes Allie. I’ve seen many Rachel McAdams movies and many Ryan Gosling movies and Allie and Noah are some of their most beloved characters because of how good they are in these roles. The Notebook is one of the best Rachel McAdams movies and one of the best Ryan Gosling movies. They’re both really outstanding in this film. 

Rachel McAdams as Allie in The Notebook

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

The Costumes And Makeup Departments Are The MVPs Of This Movie 

The Notebook starts with Allie and Noah as teens, then ends with them as older adults. At some point, they’re in their mid-20s. The oldest versions of Allie and Noah are played by James Garner and Gena Rowlands. The rest of the ages are played by Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. They completely convince you that they’re teens at the start of the movie. This is partly because of their acting skills, and partly because of the makeup department.

They tone back the makeup with McAdams to give her a fresh face to portray teen Allie. Clean-shaven Ryan Gosling looks like a teen. Once he has facial hair, he becomes an adult Noah who has seen some things. As Allie ages, more makeup appears to be added, which makes her look older and more sophisticated. The makeup is really subtle but completely transforms these characters.

The 1940s fashion is really gorgeous in The Notebook. Every one of Allie’s outfits, I would love to steal. They’re just so fabulous. The costume designers also use the clothes in very interesting ways. I noticed that the outfit that Allie and Noah wear when they meet, mimics the clothing that they’re wearing as older adults, at least in terms of colors. The Notebook is one of those movies where it’s clear that multiple elements, including costumes and makeup, work in harmony to make this such a memorable film. 

Ryan Gosling as Noah in The Notebook

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

The Notebook Breakup Scene Is One of The Best In History

Thankfully, The Notebook isn’t one of the great breakup movies, because that would totally ruin the vibe of the film. However, the film has one of the greatest movie breakup scenes. Many adore The Notebook because of all the major declarations of love, the steamy sex scene, and the enticing chemistry between the lead characters. I love all those things as well, but I also really like the main breakup scene.

It starts with Noah having his heart broken by hearing what Allie’s parents think of him. Then it leads to him ending it. We see every emotion in that scene, from anger to desperation to confusion to fear to hopelessness. It’s brilliant. Then we see parallel elements of that scene in the part where Noah fights for them to be together, but Allie doesn’t want to break Lon’s (James Marsden) heart.

The Notebook breakup scene just feels so realistic and raw.

Rachael McAdams and Ryan Gosling in The Notebook

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

The Drama And Romance Always Sweeps Me Away 

Until rewatching The Notebook, I didn’t realize how much the film engulfs you. The two-plus hours pass fast because I’m so drawn into this story and this world. I know what is going to happen, but I can’t look away. It’s one of those rare films that really takes hold of you from start to finish. You feel all their emotions, you suspend reality and reason, and you let your hopeless romantic side thrive.

Like Allie and Noah’s love story, The Notebook can be all-consuming. 

James Marsden and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

I Can’t Help But Feel Bad For Lon

Lon joins the list of movie boyfriends involved in a love triangle who do nothing wrong but just aren’t the right guy. Sometimes the other guy in these types of movies sucks. Lon is not one of those guys. Allie not only cheats on him, but she does it while completely forgetting about him for days. According to my calculation, Allie and Noah only dated for a few months (before getting married and starting their life together), but she dated Lon for at least three years before completely dumping him.

Even if you love Allie and Noah together, you kind of have to think that they were quite terrible for how they treated their exes. At least poor Martha (Jamie Brown) could see their romance as a window of what could be for her. We don’t even completely get Lon’s reaction to the breakup.

For all we know, the Allie breakup could have been Lon’s villain origin story. I know that viewers aren’t supposed to hate Allie and Noah, because we’re supposed to view this all as them being so in love that they would always only want each other. However, love shouldn’t be an excuse to just cheat and neglect your fiancé.

James Garner and Gena Rowlands in The Notebook

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Is The Notebook Ending Tragic Or Happy? 

When I originally saw The Notebook, I considered it a happy ending. They were able to live their lives together and even leave the world together. However, watching it again, I couldn’t help but wonder if this isn’t exactly a happy ending. Yes, they got to die together, but it’s pretty terrible that they reached the stage in their life where their bodies began to betray them. That’s part of life and aging, but it’s also a pretty downer way to end a love story. Realistic? Probably? Downer? Absolutely.

The sadness of The Notebook ending makes it easy to see why some versions don’t show it. It’s definitely a happy ending that they got to live a full life together and were able to leave the world together. The tragedy comes with the whole aging process and how it can disrupt even a beautiful love story, even if only temporarily. 

Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling in The Notebook

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Other Thoughts 

The Notebook rewatch sparked so many thoughts, some silly, some profound, and more just ramblings. Here are my other thoughts.

  • I think I just really love period piece love stories. Something about them makes everything more tragic and heightened. 
  • The Notebook really has a thing for birds. I’m assuming they’re a metaphor for Allie feeling caged by parents, and society, but finally being able to fly free at the end. 
  • I love writing letters, but even I find the idea of 365 letters kind of tedious. 
  • I had completely erased the war part of The Notebook from my memory.  It’s so quick that it’s barely in there. 
  • I would love a prequel about Allie’s mom and her ex. Basically, Noah and Allie, but one that doesn’t work out. 
  • The Notebook has so many great quotes. 
  • Rachel McAdams’ lungs must have hurt with all the random screaming moments in the movie. 

You can find The Notebook and plenty of other great romance movies on HBO Max

Stream The Notebook on HBO Max (opens in new tab)

Jerrica Tisdale
Freelance Writer

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.