Metascore
57

Mixed or average reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 19
  2. Negative: 1 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Tirdad Derakhshani
    Sep 26, 2014
    75
    A bleak, despairing testament to the cruelty of war, and how it mangles and defaces everyone it touches.
  2. Reviewed by: Kate Taylor
    Sep 25, 2014
    75
    The challenge for a filmmaker attempting to adapt the Agota Kristof novella The Notebook is how much of its startlingly amoral world can actually be shown.
  3. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Sep 5, 2014
    75
    It's a nightmare fairy tale that can be very difficult to watch.
  4. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Aug 28, 2014
    75
    Though it features no battle scenes, The Notebook shines a powerful, unflinching light on the horrors of World War II.
  5. Reviewed by: Clayton Dillard
    Aug 25, 2014
    75
    János Szász's film is a thoroughly provocative WWII screed that almost deliberately goes out of its way to avoid sentimentality or bathos of any sort.
  6. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Aug 28, 2014
    70
    The taste with which one is left is not savory, exactly, but it certainly lingers.
  7. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Aug 28, 2014
    70
    The Notebook is a skillfully made movie, with sequences that may haunt you after you leave the theater. But it lacks the power to turn its virtuosity, or the emotional discipline of its remarkable young leads, into a source of insight.
  8. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Aug 26, 2014
    70
    Szász's harrowing film roots that coming-of-age process in suffering, depicting it with a grim solemnity that, by never wavering, ultimately leads to a tempered measure of unexpected hopefulness.
  9. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Sep 25, 2014
    67
    The movie is well-crafted and finely acted (including by the non-actors László and András Gyémánt as the creepy, affectless twins), but it never comes up with a new way to communicate its sadly familiar themes.
  10. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Aug 29, 2014
    67
    In the name of unblinking realism, Szász overdoes the allegory. There are no sacrificial gestures here, no heroism, no tears. He comes on as truth-teller, but he’s only telling half the truth.
  11. 63
    The Notebook makes for a grim but utterly fascinating parable.
  12. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Sep 25, 2014
    50
    This adaptation of Agota Kristof’s 1986 novel is impossible to take literally, yet too obscure to read between the lines.
  13. Reviewed by: Boyd van Hoeij
    Aug 28, 2014
    50
    The frequent voice-overs, in which the boys read what they wrote (heard over shots of them writing), add distance rather than insight because it is not the action of writing that's revealing but the events and thought processes that led them to write what they did.
  14. Reviewed by: Alissa Simon
    Aug 28, 2014
    50
    Unfortunately, the glowering, non-pro Gyemant twins, who seem to have only one facial expression (and oddly anachronistic haircuts), continually break the spell woven by the other performers.
  15. Reviewed by: Martin Tsai
    Aug 28, 2014
    50
    This cautionary tale certainly has a chilling and timely message of how wars make monsters out of innocent people. But using reductive caricatures — complete with phlegmatic performances — to send that message is perhaps not the best way, because it turns something with modern-day implications into distant allegory.
  16. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Aug 28, 2014
    50
    Only those looking to have their bleak worldview painfully confirmed will find this exercise in masochism fulfilling.
  17. Reviewed by: Benjamin Mercer
    Aug 27, 2014
    42
    Not a shred of human decency is on display in The Notebook, a handsomely made, hard-to-endure World War II parable set in an unnamed Hungarian backwater during the Nazi occupation of 1944.
  18. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Aug 28, 2014
    40
    Despite the human drama here, we’re kept at a remove by stolid direction and by-the-numbers storytelling.
  19. Reviewed by: Godfrey Cheshire
    Aug 29, 2014
    38
    A well-crafted but otherwise undistinguished and tedious entry in a long line of European films that make a grotesque show of war’s horrors, often viewed through the lens of childhood’s disabused innocence.
User Score
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No user score yet- Awaiting 3 more ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 1
  2. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Aug 29, 2014
    5
    This is definitely not the film I was expecting based on its Oscar nominated pedigree. To say that I was disappointed is to put it mildly. The story concerns twin brothers who are sent to live with their un-loving grandmother at the time of World War 2 and are requested by their father to keep a notebook of their experiences. The scenes involving the grandmother are indeed the best in the film. However, the boys evolution from weak to strong, in both body and spirit, is at times too simplistically presented and at others un-necessarily over stated. Their blank stares into the camera when occupying the same cinematic frame often makes them come over as twins of evil from a hammer horror film. To this end the limited music score ominously conspires, its notes of doom seemingly belonging to another film entirely. The actress who plays the grandmother is very good, but the scenes involving cruelty to animals (often a requisite in Foreign Language films for some reason) are as distasteful as they are unwanted. Full Review »