The Notebook Image
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Mixed or average reviews - based on 14 Critics What's this?

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  • Starring: , , , , , ,
  • Summary: Towards the end of World War II, people in big cities are at the mercy of air raids and death by starvation. A desperate young mother leaves her 13‐year‐old twin sons at their grandmother's house in the country, despite the fact that this grandmother is a cruel and bestial alcoholic. The villagers call her "the Witch" because she is rumored to have poisoned her husband long ago. Previously pampered, the twins must learn how to survive alone in their new, rural surroundings. They realize that the only way to cope with the absurd and inhumane world of adults and war is to become completely unfeeling and merciless. [Sony Pictures Classic] Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 14
  2. Negative: 1 out of 14
  1. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Sep 5, 2014
    75
    It's a nightmare fairy tale that can be very difficult to watch.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

See all 14 Critic Reviews

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. Expand

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