It might still be a top choice for Valentine’s Day movie watching and a romantic classic but one psychologist has warned The Notebook gives us a bad lesson in love.
The 2004 hit film directed by Nick Cassavetes is based on Nicholas Sparks’ bestselling novel of the same name and tells the story of how Noah Calhoun (James Garner) regularly visits ‘Old Allie’ (Gena Rowlands) at her nursing home. During his visits, he reads her an old notebook about the tragic love story of Allie and Noah, a young couple played by Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. Theirs is meant to be a sweeping tale of a profound love filled with dramatic gestures and declarations, but Dr. Nicole LePera, known as the “Holistic Psychologist,” warned there were some major red flags to watch out for.
The popular psychologist, who has 6.5 million followers on Instagram, has been completing a series of reviews of relationships from popular TV shows and films, including Grey’s Anatomy and Dawson’s Creek. In her analysis of Allie and Noah, LePera describes them as “highly dysfunctional from the start,” and that the movie “glamorizes love as possession. Noah threatens to plummet to his death off of a Ferris wheel if she won’t go on a date with him,” LePera tweeted to her almost 1 million followers.
“Allie has told him no multiple times and instead of respecting her boundaries, he continues to pressure her. After they break up he writes her a letter every day (without any response) for a year, which could be considered stalking. Allie later betrays her husband by going to visit Noah without his awareness. Noah pressures her to choose him and accuses her of being a gold digger in the process. The notebook glamorizes love as possession. Conditioning us to see ‘the chase’ as exciting instead of what it actually is: unsafe.”
The psychologist’s followers were divided by her take, with some suggesting Hollywood could not show a regular romance because it would be boring. Well the reason it’s a movie is precisely because in real life, normal love is not that exciting. That’s part of the reason we like drama and art… no one wants to watch a movie about 2 perfectly healthy people in a relationship because it would be utterly boring,” wrote one person.
LePera replied: “I agree. Normal (secure) love isn’t exciting and we are drawn to relationships (in movies and in real life) that give us hits of cortisol. Just something to be aware of, that’s all.” Another simply added, “Hollywood!!!” suggesting the film industry was overdramatizing the relationship, but LePera pushed back, asking: “Or is it a reflection? TV personality Erin Lee said: “I’ve actually made it a point to not watch this movie because every time someone talks about it, I think: ‘Wow that sounds unhealthy.’ Thank you for articulating this.”
The Notebook is often regarded as a “sleeper hit” that became noticeably more popular over time. It grossed $115.6 million worldwide at the box office, making it the 15th-most profitable romantic drama film of all time, according to Box Office Mojo. McAdams and Gosling won the MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss in 2005 and recreated their infamous kissing in the rain scene onstage when accepting the award.