More than 15 years after the release of The Notebook, fans are still talking about Noah and Allie’s “love” story. The film, based on the 1996 bestselling book by Nicholas Sparks, debuted to mediocre critical reviews but created a cult fanbase of both stars, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. It’s the film that made the two Hollywood’s favorite “it” couple. However, all these years later, The Notebook is still a topic of debate among viewers. Fans say Noah and Allie are toxic. Here’s why.
The film is a heartfelt romantic drama at first glance
As described by IMDB, The Notebook follows “a poor yet passionate young man” who “falls in love with a rich young woman, giving her a sense of freedom — but they are soon separated because of their social differences.”
Gosling, who plays Noah, and McAdams, who plays Allie, fall in love in the 1940s. Theirs is a story read from a notebook in the present day, whom an elderly man (James Garner) reads to a woman in a nursing home (Gena Rowlands).
The romantic drama hit box office numbers and garnered Gosling and McAdams for awards like “Best Movie Kiss” at the MTV Movie Awards. Still, the heart of their love comes with a few issues, as pointed out by its legions of fans and critics alike.
Why fans say the relationship between Noah and Allie is toxic
If you take The Notebook for what it is on the surface — a love story that transcends time — you’ll likely be satisfied. Some, however, think Noah is “an obsessive creep with a penchant for dramatic, unwanted gestures and an inability to take no for an answer,” according to one viewer via Bustle.
Some of the points made are Noah’s inability to take no for an answer when Allie turns down a date, his persistence after the fact, and the threat he makes on the Ferris wheel to get her to change her mind. This, the reader noted, is only the beginning of what’s wrong with Noah and Allie’s relationship.
“At first glance and from far away, Noah’s actions seem like a grand romantic gesture, one that would many anyone swoon,” writer Sadie Trombetta wrote. “Upon closer look, though, they can be seen for what they really are: coercion, harassment, and emotional abuse.”
Trombetta added that his behavior “buys into the ‘it’s all about the chase’ ideology that puts women in incredibly uncomfortable, even dangerous situations.”
Fans are still dissecting ‘The Notebook’ on multiple platforms
This viewer isn’t the only one with these feelings. A Reddit user posted a lengthy look at The Notebook and how it “romanticizes manipulation and toxic behavior.”
“When he practically threatened suicide to make her go on a date with him; this is manipulation. There’s no denying it, it is also a major red flag that indicates an abusive (emotionally) relationship,” the user posted.
They continued: “Threatening your health and life to coerce someone to do something is absolutely disgusting behavior that isn’t hot or soooo romantic (Though some people, of course, do think so, I personally don’t).”
The conversation expands into other social media platforms to this day.
“The Notebook is so toxic. Noah is an obsessive creep. Grand gestures, ‘martyrdom’? That’s not for Allie, that’s for YOU. Did they even like each other when they weren’t f****ng? Did they even respect each other? It’s only as old ppl that they’re good lmao,” this fan tweeted.
“The relationship in The Notebook was toxic af but y’all don’t wanna talk about that,” another said.
“The Notebook is a beautiful, toxic love story,” this person added.
Does the book version or film version hold up better?
Some pointed out the noticeable differences between the novel and the film adaptation — namely Noah and Allie’s relationship. For instance, the entire dramatic carnival scene doesn’t exist in the book.
Noah and Allie’s meet-cute is a normal one, and their relationship builds without all the arguing and physical abuse on Allie’s part. The two are seemingly healthy, even in their book breakup.
The elderly version of Noah and Allie are said to be based on a real couple, whom Sparks knew personally, which is likely why the book explores that relationship with more respect.
That said, The Notebook’s content via film doesn’t seem to meet today’s standards for responsible content, according to those who’ve watched it.