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I am a localization manager, blogger and translator/proof-reader living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, intercultural communication, diversity, dancing and good movies.  

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

'The Notebook', or why Ryan Gosling as Noah Calhoun is considered kind of a mirage by women of the Facebook generation

Allie - You smug bastard. I hate you for saying that.
Noah - You're bored Allie. You're bored and you know it. You wouldn't be here if there wasn't something missing.
A - You arrogant son of a bitch.
N - Would you just stay with me?
A-  Stay with you? What for? Look at us, we're already fightin'
N - Well that's what we do, we fight... You tell me when I am being an arrogant son of a bitch and I tell you when you are a pain in the ass. Which you are, 99% of the time. I'm not afraid to hurt your feelings. You have like a 2 second rebound rate, then you're back doing the next pain-in-the-ass thing.
A - So what?
N - So it's not gonna be easy. It's gonna be really hard. We're gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, for ever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What's it look like? If it's with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that's what you really wanted. But don't you take the easy way out.

Rachel McAdams as Allie Nelson
Ryan Gosling as Noah Calhoun
The Notebook by Nick Cassavetes (USA, 2004)

[Dancing on the street, at night, no matter what...
or one of the most romantic scenes from The Notebook]

Together with Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino, 1987), Titanic (James Cameron, USA 1997) and William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (Baz Luhrmann, 1996), The Notebook by Nick Cassavetes is one of those 'love movies' called chick flick that almost every woman between 15 and 45 living in a Western country has seen. 
At least once. Often, way more than only once.

It doesn't matter that much if the woman has liked them or not. 
Almost every woman has seen them, has an opinion about them and has been influenced - in a good or in a bad way - by them and by the kind of love and way of loving portrayed in the movies. 
Women in Western countries have been - and of course still are - exposed through the years to a massive amount of chick flick content and tend to make a comparison between guys in real life and movie characters from their favourite titles. 
Unfair, unpractical, doomed, but true. Period.

[Simple and clear infographic with basic guidelines
about how to make the perfect chick flick,
or where Propp's Morphology of the Folk Tale 
meets Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones and other stories]

The Notebook, screen adaptation of the first published novel by Nicholas Sparks in 1996, is not really a very good movie, even if photography, costumes, set design, screenplay and even the actors are good. 
And yet the movie is not that good. Not even very good, to be honest. But it is for sure that famous and that loved by millions of women. 

Because of the way the impossible summer romance between Noah and Allie, two young people divided in the Thirties by society rules and social classes, is showed in a fresh, innocent and somehow cheeky way. With a lot of cinematic romantic clichés, and yet with a somehow different classy and sugar-y touch.

Because of the passion, the sexual tension, the kisses. 
Because of the well-known and quoted and spoofed scene where Noah and Allie kiss in the rain and then have sex with Noah holding Allie against the walls of the house and catching up with seven years of being away from each other.

[Wrigley and Chris Naka 
recreating the most famous kiss performed in The Notebook]

Most women would love to be kissed that way. Most women would love to be skinny enough to be hold that way by a handsome bloke. 
Most women would love to be lucky enough to meet a guy just as crazy and brave as they are and to experience with him intense moments and pure joy, like two children would do.

And yet, the aspect that in my opinion makes the novel and the movie very romantic is another one: after being separated by the circumstances, Noah writes Allie love letters. A lot of love letters. 365 love letters, to be more precise. 
One love letter a day for one year, without getting any kind of reply, for reasons that you would easily discover while watching the movie and that are not so relevant for this post.

Allie - Why didn't you write me? Why? It wasn't over for me, I waited for you for seven years. But now it's too late.
Noah - I wrote you 365 letters. I wrote you everyday for a year.
A - You wrote me?
N - Yes... it wasn't over, it still isn't over.

Rachel McAdams as Allie Nelson
Ryan Gosling as Noah Calhoun
The Notebook by Nick Cassavetes (USA, 2004)

In love with the girl that he considers being his soul mate, willing to explain his feelings, his dreams, his needs, his emotions, Noah keeps writing letters even if Allie doesn't write back. 
He doesn't give up on her in spite of silence, distance and misunderstandings. He just doesn't give up. Not without fighting and going all in for what he wants.

[Getting 365 love letters at once...
a little bit emotionally overwhelming, so to say]

To me, this is the quality that makes him as a character so interesting and sexy for most women: his perseverance and his devotion, his desire to be together with Allie no matter what, his hope that his love will win against all odds.

Most people are Facebook addicted. And even for those of us that are not, love letters are something very rare and probably some people never wrote or got one.
We text, we call, we chat, we send e-mails, we skype, we send pics over the Internet instead. A postcard is already a little bit too much, sometimes. A letter... what for? Could someone ask.

For two-three generations of women used to the fact that it's not even sure that a guy will call or text again after a first date or a first night together, or that a guy will stay and work on a relationship when the first problems arise, a guy able to write a love letter after the other and to stick to it is like a mirage. 
A mirage worth the price for a ticket to the movies, as the huge success of the movie can confirm.

[Waiting... is practically never a good option.
Living ones' life is]

Now you will for sure say that gender related rules are old-fashioned, girl power rules, a woman can text and call herself. Sure thing. 
And yet, if the guy doesn't want to talk to her, he will ignore calls, messages and e-mails or reply after ages, to make it clear that she is not that important and that she doesn't deserve his attention or she is not a big priority for him. 
So more waiting, more disappointment, more frustration on the woman's side. For nothing.
If a guy wants to talk to a woman, he will call or write or text or whatever. It's just that easy. It really is.

[Are gender related rules and roles old-fashioned?
Well, yes. And no]

Nicholas Sparks said in different interviews that he took inspiration for The Notebook from the marriage of the grandparents of his wife. That the plot of the book is based on a true story.
Maybe it's true, maybe it's not and it was just a PR thing, but for sure most women would love to believe that somewhere there are men like Noah, able to keep fighting for a woman in spite of everything.

On the other hand... how long should one fight before giving up?
How long should one try and go all in for what one wants, before accepting that someone is gone for good?
How long love and perseverance can be considered healthy, before trying to reach someone that doesn't reply has to be considered stalking?

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Tags: Chick flick, The Notebook, Love letter, Texting, Silence, Relationships