Recommended with Caution. This was an emotionally rich and moving story for me. First off, I absolutely loved the premise and couldn’t wait to see the movie when I read about it in development a couple years ago. An old man reads the same love story everyday to an old woman with Senile Dementia (at first, it was Alzheimers) only to realize that it is their love story. I may not be smart, but I know what love is, and that is one of the most gut wrenching heart tugging premises I have ever heard. So the story is about a romance that takes place in the 40s and ends in the present, 60 years later. Let me tell you, these modern kid movies about falling in love and teen and college romance, and young love etc. don’t know anything about the real depth and richness that love can achieve after a lifetime of devotion and commitment. Young love doesn’t hold a candle to mature love. And that is what this movie is about. It’s a classic Romeo and Juliet story about a girl, Allie, with rich Southern background who falls in love with a poor lumber worker, Noah. Of course, the parents don’t want it because they are raising her to marry wealthy. Allie goes back home to New York and Noah goes to fight in the war. They lose touch, and Allie falls in love with Lon, a high society guy who is everything her parents want AND what she enjoys. A rarity since she is so rebellious. But just when she is about to marry him, she realizes that she is still in love with Noah, and always has been. She may love Lon, but she is IN love with Noah. Just before the wedding, she goes back to visit Noah, to try to wrap up her past so she can get on with her life. But of course, she cannot because she is still madly in love with Noah. Her internal struggle is that she has always done what others wanted her to do in life and what she thought she SHOULD do rather than what she wanted to do. With Noah, she feels more alive and free than with anyone. He affirms her long lost love to paint. Something that fades in her wealthy world of high society. But what’s cool about it is that her wealthy world is not a cruel prison, as in the propagandistic Titanic, it’s actually a pretty good world, and Lon is actually a great and loving guy, but it’s just not her heart’s truest desire. This is a great premise, because unlike Titanic, this story is more real in setting up two worlds that are both good, but one is just best. So will she choose the best and sacrifice the good? Will she give up her security and choose the man who makes her come alive, but is of less means? Security and a good life versus poverty and the best life. The reason this is so dear to me if because I feel it is, in a sense what my wife did when she chose me. She did not choose a secure rich life, but she chose love and a man with passion and vision for what is important in life. At least, that’s what I’d like to think ☺. Anyway, another mature and wise thing about this story is that it shows that Noah and Allie are so passionate with each other that they are also passionate fighters as well. The good comes with the bad. Passion has a both a good and a bad side. You may experience higher highs with Passion, but also lower lows. This is scary thing for Allie, but Noah reminds her, “Of course, this isn’t going to be easy, We fight a lot. Because that’s what we do. It’s going to be hard. But we’ll work through it together for the rest of our lives. And I promise to love you forever.” And of course, they do, and we see that Noah’s love lasts their whole lives with devotion and dedication, even when she forgets who he is. So it’s not just about the fires of young passionate love, but about enduring devoted love, a real lacking in modern romances.
What I didn’t like about the movie was the fornication. Unfortunately, they played up premarital sex too strongly as something that is right to consummate their love. The fact that Allie had wild sex with Noah right before she was going to be wed to another man shows an abysmal lack of character that most people simply do not have a clue about. A person who will follow their passions rather than do the right thing makes for explosive drama but not for quality character in real life. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for passion and going with your heart and dream, but it is simply selfish to elevate passion as the ultimate arbiter of goodness or right. Sometimes we must do the right thing even if our passions tell us not to. A woman of character and trustworthiness would have broken off the engagement and saved the sexual consummation for marriage. You can be very passionate and still do the right thing. I know, because that’s what I did. After all, if she would be unfaithful in her engagement because of her passions, upon what basis could either of them trust the other in their marriage when temptation comes along for a new passionate tryst? The reality of life is that passion always wanes, temptations will surely come, and then what do you want, the person of passion or of character? Also, I am so tired of how romances overwhelmingly tend to be stories about how the chaotic Existential “against the rules” person “frees up” the musty, uptight person who is bound by society’s rules. Just another humanistic, modernist prejudice. In real life these Existential thrill seekers who live for experience and passion without rules most often end up destroying relationships and marriages because after all, if they live for the moment and think “doing the right thing” is oppressive, then why do we think they will stick around and work through problems when problems inevitably and ALWAYS DO arrive? Life, and commitment is hard work, and rewards come from sticking to the right thing, not following your heart, as it turns every which way. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) But in this story, though Noah is portrayed as a man of passion, he is shown to be a man of promise as well, in that he builds the house he promised to Allie even when he thought he lost her. When she asks him why he did, he replies, “Because I promised you I would.” And he writes to her every single day for a year even though she never gets the letters and doesn’t reply. So I think there is balance here that warrants respect for this mature understanding of love that balances passion with devotion and promise. It’s just too sad that in the real world, there are far too many men of passion who do not have character and devotion, and so end up destroying so many lives by ending up passionately unfaithful. Another touch of Romanticism that I did not care for is the elevation of this human love as the ultimate love in life. They say “our love can make miracles.” So they end up dying together in bed, a “miracle of their love.” While loving a spouse for an entire life is certainly one of the highest loves to experience, it is really empty and vain to me if it is not rooted in a higher love, a transcendent love of God. This is the only eternal love that can give human love any real value. Without the love of God, all human love is just tragic foreplay to death. When you know the love of God, you understand how much human love pales in comparison, but at the same time how human love is given its true ultimate value in being rooted in something higher. Self-evident truth: Man is not God. So no matter how hard we try to deify human love, we are unsatisfied. As Augustine said to God, “Thou has made our hearts restless till they rest in thee.”