THE NOTEBOOK (2014)
Misanthropic War Story
Release Date: August 29, 2014
Starring: Lászlo Gyémánt, András
Gyémánt, Piroska Molnár,
Ulrich Thomsen, Gyöngyver
Bognar, Orsolya Tóth
Runtime: 104 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony
Director: János Szász
Executive Producer: Albert Kitzler, György Such,
Producer: Sandor Söth, Pál Sandor
Writer: Abndras Szekér, János
Szász, Agota Kristof
Address Comments To:Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, Co-Presidents, Sony Pictures Classics (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833; Fax: (212) 833-8844
Web Page: www.sonyclassics.com; Email: Sony_Classics@spe.sony.com
The movie opens on the boys having an idyllic time with their mother and father, who has a few days on leave before he must return to the war. They sadly say goodbye to their father, who gives them a blank notebook to write down everything that happens to them while he’s gone.
As things get worse in the city, the boys’ mother decides to dump them at the elderly grandmother’s farmhouse. The grandmother reluctantly takes the boys, even though she hasn’t seen her daughter in 20 years. However, she treats them really badly, calling them “bastards” because she wrongly thinks the mother had them out of wedlock.
The local townspeople think the grandmother is a witch, so they treat the twins as harshly as they treat her. Their only friends are a teenage girl with a harelip who takes care of her blind and deaf mother nearby and a German officer who takes over the guesthouse on the grandmother’s farm. To defend themselves against the people and their grandmother, the twins take a stoic, almost ascetic attitude toward life. This includes hitting and beating on one another. Even though they pour over their Bible, the teenage girl teaches them to steal to survive. This just earns even more wrath from the townspeople. However, the grandmother begins to care about what happens to the twins.
Things seem to go from bad to worse, especially when the Russian Army arrives, driving out the Germans. Sadly, the Russians rape and murder the teenage girl, a horrible act that the Russian Army was known for throughout Eastern Europe and Germany during the war.
Eventually, the mother, then the father, suddenly appear at the farm. The mother’s appearance results in tragedy, and the father’s appearance results in cold-blooded murder. This story is not, of course, a lovely (much less a fruitful) way to spend your time at the movie theater.
World War II definitely was a brutal time, and THE NOTEBOOK shows this to be the case in a way that’s not extremely salacious. That said, the movie ends on a thoroughly depressing note where neither God nor any sense of human decency comes out the victor. So much so that most moviegoers will leave the theater scratching their heads about the filmmakers’ intentions. THE NOTEBOOK also contains lots of foul language and some disturbing plotlines. The movie is based on the first book of an acclaimed trilogy by a female Hungarian novelist. After watching this movie, MOVIEGUIDE® has no desire to read the books. Ultimately, THE NOTEBOOK strikes us as a misanthropic, abhorrent work. Christianity seems to have no effect on the movie’s young protagonists.
World War II definitely was a brutal time, and THE NOTEBOOK shows this to be the case in a way that’s not extremely salacious. That said, the movie ends on a thoroughly depressing note where neither God nor any sense of human decency comes out the victor. So much so that most moviegoers will leave the theater scratching their heads about the story. THE NOTEBOOK contains lots of foul language and some disturbing plotlines and violence. It’s misanthropic, humanist and abhorrent.