Old-fashioned matinee pictures don't come much more sickly than The Notebook, a cloying weepie in which senile dementia meets Mills and Boon. Based on a best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks - whose previous scribblings have given us the awful love-ins A Walk To Remember and Message In A Bottle - it's a sweeping tale of love across the decades starring James Garner and Gena Rowlands as a pair of old wrinklies battling Alzheimer's Disease while recalling their past love affairs.
Those with a weak constitution for slushy mushiness are advised to have their sick bags at the ready. Stuck in a care home in the present, Garner reads Rowlands a tale of two star-crossed lovers from his notebook: Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) are crazy kids in 40s North Carolina. He's a white trash labourer with an unorthodox approach to dating and a passion for the poetry of Walt Whitman (see, he's a sensitive young lad at heart). She's a high-flying society girl with minted parents who, naturally, don't approve.
"WILL HAVE ROMANTICS BLUBBING AND CYNICS HURLING"
It all ends in heartache of course as rivers - nay, oceans - of saltwater tears are shed as various obstacles thwart their love. Parents interfere, important letters are returned to sender, the Second World War rears its ugly head (how selfish), and director Nick Cassavetes delivers a romantic melodrama that ought to have been made, not just set, in the 40s. Yet, for all the schmaltz, it does the job it sets out to do, delivering a soft-focus, nostalgic weepie that'll have romantics blubbing and cynics hurling.
As the youngsters, Gosling (The Believer) and Adams (Mean Girls) cook up an unlikely degree of sexual chemistry, even though the script sports a triple-locked chastity belt with a ten-digit combination. It's enough to ensure you'll laugh, you'll cringe, heck, you might even cry. Just try not to hate yourself for it when the credits roll.