The Notebook

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57

Mixed or average reviews - based on 21 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. TheTowards 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] Expand
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21
  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Sep 5, 2014
    75
    It's a nightmare fairy tale that can be very difficult to watch.
  3. 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.
  4. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Oct 2, 2014
    63
    An elegantly made, almost unbearably depressing tale of WWII-era deprivation and survival.
  5. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Oct 10, 2014
    60
    There's something haunting going on in The Notebook -- in the story, in the performances, in the overall atmosphere -- that makes it hard to look away from, and equally hard to forget.
  6. 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.
  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 21 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. TheThis 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