Romanticised Abuse: The Notebook

Our goal is to raise awareness and draw attention to romanticised abuse in films, books, etc, in order to fight it
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- Share examples of romanticised abuse you've seen in books or films - doesn't even have to be a whole book or film; simply one scene is enough, if there's an instance of romanticised abuse in it.
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- This is not only about romanticised abusive relationships. It is about romanticised sexual assault, rape, and harassment, as well.
- Please consider the following statement a trigger warning: this blog series explores and draws attention to themes of abuse in fiction. I will discuss sexual assault, abusive relationships, and rape. I will infrequently explore those topics in depth as the fictional example requires it. Please read on with care. These subjects could be triggering.

Please Note: I have not read the Nicholas Sparks novel. I am only judging the movie. 

A while ago I was browsing online when I came across an article that claimed that Noah from The Notebook was a creep. I didn't read the article (never have) but my ignorant reaction was one of shock and anger. How dare they say that about Noah?! How dare they suggest his romance with Allie wasn't amazing?
But as I thought about The Notebook, the film, I couldn't stop thinking about it. And so I decided to rewatch it, keeping in mind that Noah might, well, be a creep. What I saw literally made my jaw drop. After taking extensive notes throughout the film, I decided to write this post.

Here are the reasons why I believe Noah and Allie's relationship is not a romance.

The Ferris wheel incident / Noah and Allie meet for the first time when he comes up to her at the carnival. Their conversation goes like this:
N: "Do you wanna go out with me?"
A: "No."
N: "Why not?"
A: "Cos I don't want to."
She then walks off with her girl friend, murmuring in an uncomfortable tone, "Did you see, he was like two inches from my face?" whereas her friend replies, "That's Noah, though."
Hmm. Not cool, dude. Respect her space.
Allie then climbs onto the Ferris wheel with a guy. Noah, not one to give up easily, climbs after her and falls into their laps amid Allie's startled screams. He repeats, "Will you go out with me?" She says "No...because I don't want to", and Noah then proceeds to hang from the metal rail of their compartment, threatening to let go, until she agrees to a date.
That. Is. Not. Okay. She said no; take a hint and leave her alone. Threatening a girl to make her go on a date with you is not romantic. Refusing to give up when she's not interested is not romantic. Watching that scene, I was also stunned by how serious and solemn it was. This wasn't a light hearted event (until she pulled his trousers down ;) - Allie was genuinely angry and uncomfortable, and Noah refused to take no for an answer.

Noah confronts Allie / Noah confronts Allie in the street about the date she apparently swore she'd go on with him (she might have sworn, dude, but she screamed it while you hung from a rail threatening to let go. That's pressure). Noah refuses to let her go back on her word, and says this: "It was a stupid thing to do {the Ferris wheel incident} but I had to be next to you. I was drawn to you......when I see something I like, I got to ha - I love it. I go crazy for it." 

Anyone else getting serious creeper vibes from this? It doesn't sound like romance, it sounds like Noah is obsessed with Allie. It's creepy, not flattering.

First "date" / Noah and Allie's friends "set them up" on a double date to the cinema. Allie doesn't know Noah's coming, and when he shows up she genuinely looks uncomfortable and distressed. She pulls her friend aside, but her friend shrugs off her worries. At this point it is not clear that Allie has any kind of affinity towards Noah; at this point, she's simply trying to avoid him, and he and her friends are making that impossible.

Their outing at the cinema goes okay, and by the end of it Allie is obviously smitten with Noah. The movie immediately excuses her friends and Noah's behaviour, which honestly I am not happy about it. They were in the wrong here; not Allie for not wanting to be with Noah.

Lying in the road / That is reckless as heck. And I hate, hate, how Noah says to Allie "you need to learn how to trust" as he convinces her to lie down in the middle of the street with him. That line and the way he says it is unsettling.

Sure, there is such a thing as living life on the edge, but lying down in the middle of a road is plain stupid and has no place in Noah and Allie's relationship.

Allie is physically abusive / Allie frequently hits Noah, and I'm not talking a light nudge or even a slap. I'm talking beating with her fists. Once when they're in the street and arguing, she turns on him and starts hitting him. Again, when he says he has to break up with her, she slaps and punches him and shoves him so hard he bangs into his truck.

She is being physically abusive. There should be no other way to take this.

The letters / Allie leaves town and Noah's hurt. I get that. But the guy sends her a letter every single day for a year. She never replies, and although we as the viewers know that it's Allie's mom who's keeping them aside before Allie can read them, for all Noah knows, Allie is purposefully not replying because she's moved on. Yes, it would be hurtful, but she is entitled to. Yet that still doesn't stop Noah from sending her 365 letters. Three hundred and sixty five!! Obsessed much? Noah, for all you know, she's moved on and happily so. Quit being a creep and a stalker.

Noah's unstable / Noah feels things passionately, and yes, Allie hurt him when she left. It was a cruel cutoff of the relationship they had. But....he is emotionally unstable. After he sees Allie and her fiancĂ© together (which would hurt, obviously) the narrator follows up with: "After seeing Allie that day, something inside Noah snapped. He got the notion into his head that if he restored the house where they had come that night {slept together} Allie would find a way to come back to him. Some called it a labour of love. Some called it something else. But in fact, Noah had gone mad." 

There you have it. Noah is emotionally unstable, and although I feel sorry for him, his relationship with Allie (as you can see above) is not a healthy one. This goes beyond passionate and right down to obsession and yes, abuse. Here's more proof of Noah's instability: "{When Noah finished building the house} he got rip-roaring drunk, considered setting it on fire......He told the man who offered him $5000 over his price {to buy the house} that no one in their right mind would do that and he wouldn't have a lunatic living in his house." He then scares the man and his wife off his property with a gun. 
Just...What the heck?! How can we ignore that?!

Allie visits / An engaged Allie decides to visit Noah to "see if you're alright". She and Noah have a chat, and she tells she "loves him {Lon, her fiancĂ©} very much." They then have supper together. Allie remarks jokingly, "I have to warn you, I'm a cheap drunk. A couple more of these {beers} and you're gonna be carrying me right out of here." Noah replies, " Well you go slow then, I don't want to have to take advantage of you." Allie says, "You wouldn't dare. I'm a married woman", and Noah points out, " Not yet." 

EW. And did you catch that "to have to"?! That's gross.

Ryan Gosling is an excellent actor, and in this scene he really communicates Noah's anguish. The thing is, he says those lines in a way that's less of a joke and more darkly serious. In that scene, he acts like a psychopath, what with his tone of voice and body language. I'm not implying that Noah would take advantage of Allie if she did get drunk, but what he says and how he says it is creepy and disturbing. Knowing his psychological issues, I for one would want to run out that house then and there. It's not romantic. It's intimidating and creepy and frankly inappropriate.

After Allie goes / After supper, Allie leaves the house. The narrator's voice-over tells us that, "She had come back into his life like a sudden flame.....Noah stayed up all night contemplating the certain agony he knew would be his if he were to lose her again." 

Excuse me? He stayed up all night? Isn't that disturbing and worrying? The narrator isn't exaggerating, either, and knowing Noah I'm not surprised he'd do that. But is that romantic? Is that healthy? It shouldn't be! The guy is fixated with Allie.

The Notebook is unanimously one of most classic fictional romances in the Western world. But rewatching the movie, I saw not a tale of beautiful romance, but a story about toxic obsession. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams might have incredible chemistry, but their characters are not depicting a loving relationship. Noah is psychologically abusive, and Allie is physically abusive. I don't think this is a love story. It certainly isn't the kind I hope to be in one day.

I strongly believe that The Notebook, although well acted and well filmed, is a romanticised depiction of obsessive and abusive behaviour.