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She then gives Allie the letters that Noah wrote to her, admitting that she hid them from Allie.Allie confesses to Lon that she has been spending time with Noah, and tells him she knows she should be with him, but she remains indecisive.
In the present, it is revealed that the elderly woman is Allie, who is suffering from dementia.
The house was not actually in a dilapidated state at any time, but it was made to look that way by special effects in the first half of the film.
Contrary to the suggestion in the film's dialogue, neither the house nor the Seabrook area was home to South Carolina Revolutionary hero Francis Marion, whose plantation was actually located some distance northwest of Charleston.
Based on 155 reviews on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 52% of critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.7/10 and the website's consensus stating "It's hard not to admire its unabashed sentimentality, but The Notebook is too clumsily manipulative to rise above its melodramatic clichés." At Metacritic, which assigns an average rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film currently holds an average score of 53, based on 34 reviews, which indicates "mixed or average reviews." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times praised the film, awarding it three-and-a-half stars out of four, calling the photography "striking in its rich, saturated effects" and stating that the "actors are blessed by good material." Peter Lowry of Film Threat gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of five; praising the performances of both Gosling and Mc Adams, he wrote: "Gosling and especially Mc Adams give all-star performances, doing just enough to hand the reins over to the pros, who take what's left of the film and finish the audience off with some touching scenes that don't leave a dry eye in the house." About the film itself he added: "Overall, The Notebook is a surprisingly good film that manages to succeed where many other "chick flick" like romances fail." Stephen Holden of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, stating that "the scenes between the young lovers confronting adult authority have the same seething tension and lurking hysteria that the young Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood brought more than 40 years ago to their roles in Splendor in the Grass." Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post also gave the film a positive review, she also praised the performances of Gosling and Mc Adams, stating: "Never mind that Mc Adams and Gosling don't for a minute call to mind 1940s America; they're both suitably attractive and appealing.
Gosling, who delivered a searing and largely unseen screen debut performance in the 2001 drama The Believer, is particularly convincing as a young man who charms his way past a girl's strongest defenses." About the film, she added: "Audiences craving big, gooey over-the-top romance have their must-see summer movie in The Notebook." William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer praised the performance of Mc Adams but criticized the performance of Gosling, stating that he "just doesn't have the kind of star power or chemistry with Mc Adams to anchor this kind of minor-league Gone with the Wind." He also added about the film that it "doesn't completely work on its own terms, mainly because its romantic casting just doesn't spark: It doesn't make us fall in love with its lovers." Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe gave the film two-and-a-half stars, praising the performances of its cast members, writing about Mc Adams that "she's soulfully committed to the suds in the story and fiercely attentive to the other actors".
At a modern-day nursing home, an elderly man, Duke, reads a romantic story from his notebook to a fellow patient.
In 1940, Seabrook Island, South Carolina, Noah Calhoun is smitten with 17 year old heiress Allison "Allie" Hamilton after seeing her at a carnival, and they have a summer love affair.
Duke is actually Noah, and was told by Allie during the onset of her illness to reread their journals to help her remember.
She briefly remembers who he is and they reconcile, but soon forgets and panics, forcing medical personnel to sedate her.
Noah reassures her that they can do anything with the love they share, and fall asleep together in Allie's bed, dying in their sleep with a nurse discovering them in the morning.
On casting her, Cassavetes said: "When Rachel Mc Adams came in and read, it was apparent that she was the one.
While visiting Charleston, Noah witnesses Allie and Lon kissing at a restaurant; he convinces himself that if he restores the house, Allie will come back to him.