"Misanthropic War Story"
What You Need To Know:
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.
(HHH, C, B, AbAbAb, AC, VV, SS, NNN, A, D, MMM) Very strong humanist worldview where even with access to the Bible, church and/or religion, man’s evil is too powerful, with some references to Christianity or biblical passages overcome by corrupt Protestant clergyman who’s a pedophile and Christianity or religion seems to have no positive effect when all is said and done, so there’s a nihilistic ending, although Jews are seen as victims of Anti-Semites in a mostly Christian village, but one Nazi officer seems kinder than most other people, as does one Jewish shoemaker; about 29 obscenities (including three or four “f” words and estranged, cantankerous grandmother calls twin grandchildren “bastards” and the word almost becomes a term of endearment as she grow to care more for them, and they for her), one GD and two light profanities; strong disturbing and other strong and light violence with some blood such as man beats and tortures boys after one of them destroys the face of a beautiful Anti-Semitic older teenager who hated a local Jewish man who helped them once by placing some grenades in her stove, German officer stops man (a collaborator) and shoots him dead point blank, patricide, bomb explosion from an airplane kills mother and her infant daughter (but nothing gruesome is shown, mostly just the bomb exploding in front of them at night), implied pedophilia, younger teenage girl tortured and raped off screen and her nude body is shown with non-bloody cuts, Jews ushered to the death camps through a village, dead frozen corpse, boys find bleeding dead man (not extremely graphic), boys hit each other and their own bodies to toughen themselves up, man steps on a mine, etc.; strong sexual references includes clergyman is a pedophile, older teenage girl takes bath with young teenage boys and its implied she takes the big toe of one of the boys to touch her genital area, implied adultery after a mother returns with a new infant daughter by another man, and brutal rape of a younger teenage girl takes place off screen; full frontal female nudity of younger teenage girl’s body after she’s been raped and killed by Russian soldiers, upper female nudity as older teenage girl takes bath with younger teenage boys on the cusp of puberty and some upper male nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, stealing, deceit, young teenage boys lie to father to lure him into mine field so one boy can cross mine field over father’s dead body, mentions of being bullied by townspeople, and it’s implied that the two young protagonists deliberately poison their grandmother after she undergoes a second, thoroughly debilitating stroke (something she instructed them to do after the first stroke; they live on an isolated farmhouse during wartime and the local people don’t like them).
THE NOTEBOOK is a bizarre, often disturbing 2014 movie from Hungary about two close-knit twin boys who have to fend for themselves at their elderly grandmother’s farm during World War II. The war’s brutality eventually causes the boys to turn on their mother and father, and on their Christian upbringing, and cling to their irascible, mean grandmother who grows to love and care for the boys in her own gruff fashion.
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.