Directed by: Augustine Frizzell – Starring: Felicity Jones, Callum Turner, Joe Alwyn, Nabhaan Rizwan, Shailene Woodley
In cinemas now!
In the present day, the story of a mid-20th century couple is pieced together through their writings. No, it’s not the Notebook, but rather this offering based on Jojo Moyes’ 2012 novel of the same name.
It is impossible not to compare the two however. Nicolas Sparks wrote The Notebook in 1996, and everyone has been trying to replicate it since, and while this doesn’t stick exactly to the formula, it is definitely inspired by and draws from it.
Jones plays Ellie Haworth, a romantic cynic and journalist, asked to write an article about the recently deceased editor of her paper.
In order to do this, she must first access her papers, which involves endearing herself to the formal archivist of the publication, Rory (Rizwan). When she finds a random love letter in the files, from someone called Boots to someone identified as J, the pair set out to get to the bottom of the couple’s story. They learn that J was actually wealthy 1960s socialite, Jennifer Stirling (Woodley) and Boots was reporter, Anthony O’Hare (Turner). They had an illicit but passionate affair, and as Ellie and Rory track their story through their letters, they grow closer, and – well, no spoilers, but you can see where this is going.
I felt Woodley and Turner in particular were terribly cast, and never really got under the skin of their characters. They also had no chemistry, which is a bit awkward when your characters are supposed to be having an illicit affair.
To be honest, none of the casting really works at all, and they seem to have gone for ‘names’ over actors who could actually embody the roles. The best performances come from actors playing present day versions of the 1960s characters, but they are only on screen briefly.
This is as predictable as you would expect. But then again, these romantic dramas based on novels tend to have a formula, and if it ain’t broken… This will appeal to fans of the book I’m sure, but it is extremely saccharine and stilted, without being as heart-wrenching as it seems to think it is.