The Moral Of 'The Notebook' Is Terrible
As much as I love a good love story, a majority of them have some big ol' problems. Dating is the least rational thing people do, and people have waded into lakes of toxic waste just to take cool photos, so it's not surprising we gravitate to "two people imploding" when its labeled as "love." There's almost a mathematical formula to it -- the greater the problematic-ness times the toxicity equals one helluva love story.
And so, the movie The Notebook, based on the Nicholas Sparks book of the same name, is one of the worst offenders when it comes to showing a couple that's more explosive than Semtex. If you're not familiar with the flick, it's the story of a poor boy, Noah (played by a pre-Notebook and therefore pre-heartthrob Ryan Gosling), who falls in love with rich girl Allie (Rachel McAdams). They have a hot and heavy summer romance which gets thwarted by Allie's snotty mother, who labels Noah as "trash" and hides all of the letters Noah sends Allie after they're forced to break up.
Allie and Noah reunite when they're older, have a steamy kiss in the rain, then end up falling in love again. The movie ends with old Allie and old Noah dying together while holding hands in a non-mass suicide, "we're just old and it's time to go" kind of way, aka the creepiest romantic gesture ever.
So why do we love this love story? If they had been a real couple, they would have broken up and stayed broken up, regardless of parental intervention. (Or she would have at least ended up taking out a restraining order on him.) You see, Noah basically harassed Allie into going out with him. He recklessly hung from a Ferris wheel, putting himself in danger. If Allie had refused his advances for longer, she would have been responsible for Noah's easily preventable death. And there's nothing romantic about having to live with the guilt of accidentally killing a man for the rest of your life, even if you develop Alzheimer's and forget everything.
And why did Noah decide to recklessly pursue Allie? He saw her and liked her. Goddammit, we are trying to move away from this as a society, Nicholas Sparks. Noah knew nothing about Allie, but decided it was worth risking his life for her anyways. Once they did get to know each other, it turned out they had nothing in common and fought constantly. Look, if you want to die next to someone when you're old, you're going to have at least one thing in common. That's what relationships are based on! The first time Noah and Allie legitimately did talk about the future (beyond what would happen if they both suddenly turned into birds), they broke up.
Allie and Noah did have one thing in common. They were hot for each other. I get it. Who doesn't want to get railed in a condemned house? But that's not a good enough reason to marry someone. Just keep those memories in your spank bank and take one out when you're having boring married sex with your sensible spouse.
And it's not like Allie didn't have that option. Allie gets engaged to Lon, who's a much better match. He's well-off and patient with Allie -- even when she's shitty to him and decides she just has to visit her ex-boyfriend right before the wedding. He is also just as hot -- and in some moments (i.e. the moments when Ryan Gosling has that rat's nest of a beard) hotter than Noah. Unless Lon is giving her tepid, WASPy sex (the kind where you're so sexually repressed you can only do it in missionary, no foreplay) then Allie ostensibly has all of her needs met by Lon.
The whole thing that's supposed to make Lon a bad match for Allie is that she stopped painting during their engagement. But Lon doesn't actively discourage her from painting. That's on her. Sure, Noah buys her a paint set, but she could buy her own. It's called feminism! The entire movement was created just so you don't have to end up married to a shotgun-wielding hermit!
But the biggest red flag of them all is the way Noah handles their breakup. Noah's so torn up that he was willing to give up personal hygiene for a really, really long time. And Allie was so in love, she was willing to risk getting bitten by the new species of lice inhabiting his facial hair.
After briefly seeing Allie with Lon, he decided to fix up the house he took Allie's virginity in. What did he think that was going to do? Make her leave her fiance and come back to him? Okay, in this case it did, but you can't go around flipping houses every time you're sad about a breakup. Real estate doesn't work that way!
Noah went so far out that one film reviewer noted, "Gosling is adept at playing sociopaths and intense brooders, and there's reason to think, early on, that Noah might be similarly off." Allie is lucky that she ended up kissing Noah in the rain outside the house, instead of locking her up inside it. But at the end of the day, Allie couldn't give up that good D, and that's great love stories are apparently made of? At least be honest about your moral here, Notebook: it's okay to marry someone who's a complete psycho, as long as they ride you like a hobbyhorse.
Top image: New Line Cinema