Before the phrase “based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks” prompted a collective groan from cinephiles, there were some good movies adapted from books written by Sparks, a Bella Vista High School graduate.
Actually, “some” overstates it. There were two: “A Walk to Remember,” a 2002 five-hankie weeper starring Mandy Moore as a heavily Christian high school teen who intoxicates a bad boy (Shane West), and “The Notebook,” a 2004 three-hankie weeper starring Ryan Gosling as a mill worker who intoxicates a beautiful rich girl (Rachel McAdams).
Though “Walk” was better, “Notebook” climbed further into the public consciousness thanks to chemistry between one-time real-life couple Gosling and McAdams. “Notebook” also offers a Gosling performance more nakedly romantic than any he has given during his subsequent, more knowing “hey girl” heyday as sex symbol.
Though “Notebook” ostensibly became a template for a zillion simple-country-boy/sophisticated girl Hallmark movies, none have its star, or its staying, power. It would be the perfect film to revisit on Tuesday, in honor Valentine’s Day.
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