In the opening scene of The Notebook, we are introduced to an aging and humbled Noah, who memorably says, "I've led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me, and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect, I've succeeded as gloriously as anyone who's ever lived. I've loved another with all my heart and soul, and for me, that's always been enough."
Every day, aging Noah reads their love story to Allie — a story she handwrote — in hopes it will trigger her memory. Growing old with someone like this sure beats growing old alone, or with someone who calls you "old bat" and sits in the corner rolling their eyes at everything you say.
Couldn't we all use a little tireless patience in our golden years? Garner's elderly Noah introduces Allie's children to her — as just his children, so as not to upset her. We gather from the story he has likely done this dozens of times, and in so doing, found a remote way for her adult children and grandchildren to stay connected to her, even though she has no idea who they are. Allie excuses herself from the gathering of strangers and when Noah's children beg him to come home, he tells them, "That's my sweetheart in there. I'm not leaving her." This is one of several incredibly sad but hopelessly inspiring moments Garner delivers so expertly.
Garner's Noah arranges for a special candlelit dinner after he has been reading to Allie all day. The intimate setting triggers Allie's memory, which they both know will only last five minutes. In that five minutes they dance, until Allie's memory fails and she panics to be dancing in her room with someone she doesn't know. The scene ends with old Noah in tears as the doctor has to sedate Allie to calm her down. Sigh.
When elderly Noah goes in search of elderly Allie in the middle of the night, he finds her in a rare lucid moment where she remembers everything. When Allie asks Noah if their love is strong enough to take them away together, he replies, "I think our love can do anything we want it to." Then he climbs in bed with her and they drift off together. Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. Jaded hearts scoff and say such sentiment doesn't exist in real life, but if anyone could make us believe, it was Garner. He took what could have been a potentially cheesy or sappy scene and made it believable. This movie is just one of a multitude of reasons Garner's presence on the big and small screens will be missed.
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