ABC Film Challenge – Romance – N – The Notebook (2004)

Director: Nick Cassavetes

Writer: Jeremy Leven, Jan Sardi (Screenplay) Nicholas Sparks (Novel)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Sam Shepard, Joan Allen, James Marsden, Kevin Connolly,


Plot: A poor yet passionate young man falls in love with a rich young woman, giving her a sense of freedom, but they are soon separated because of their social differences.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Date Night Sorted


Story: The Notebook starts as Duke (Garner) a positive thinking elderly man is getting ready to continue a story to Miss Hamilton (Rowlands) at the home, this story takes us back to Noah (Gosling) who meets the 17-year-old Allie (McAdams), both from different backgrounds, Noah poor and Allie rich.

When the two fall wildly in love Allie’s parent’s don’t want her to spend her life with what they call trash, leading to a break-up of the loving couple. Years fly by the two live their own lives away from each other where Allie falls in love with a man her family approve off. While the two cross paths again the love they felt will always be there, but life always gets in the way.


Thoughts on The Notebook


Characters – Noah came from the wrong side of town, the side with no money or prospects, he earns everything he has to prove that he can escape this world, he makes it through war but his love for Allie will never stop being there. Allie comes from the rich part of town, she accepts Noah for being different but her parents stop her from following the true love she felt for him, while she does fall in love with another man she will always have that flame for Noah. Duke is the man telling us the story to Miss Hamilton who is listening to the story, we learn that they are a bigger part of the story too.

PerformanceGosling and McAdams both shine in these roles which will always be considered two of their more popular roles of their careers. James Garner and Gena Rowlands are both great in the older roles too.

StoryThe story focuses on two people who fell in love, they face stumbling blocks along the way be it personal or otherwise but the love they feel will be what no other can give them. We do flash between the story unfolding as it is being told that does give us hints to who the elder characters are which at times can be frustrating because the final reveal is the one that plays on the heart strings. This is a fairy tale love story, which the likely hood of every happening seems unlikely, but it gives the audience hope of true love.

RomanceThe romance in this film does show how two people can fall in love and it last forever even through illness, war and everyday situations.

SettingsThe settings give us a clear difference in class the two come from and just how the love they feel can bring people together from different background


Scene of the Movie – Swans and rain.


That Moment That Annoyed Me I think they give away a twist too early.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the all time most popular date night movies, you can see why because it does work on the love side of things.


Overall: This is a bitter sweet love story that plays for tears.





The Contender (2000)

Director: Rod Lurie

Writer: Rod Lurie (Screenplay)

Starring: Gary Oldman, Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Christian Slater, Sam Elliott, William Petersen, Saul Rubinek, Philip Baker Hall


Plot: Senator Laine Hanson is a contender for US Vice President, but information and disinformation about her past surfaces that threatens to de-rail her confirmation.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Brilliant Political Thriller


Story: The Contender starts as President Jackson Evans (Bridges) is in search for a new Vice-President after the death of the previous one. When senator Jack Hathaway (Petersen) witnesses a car crash but is unsuccessful in rescuing the victim, this eliminates him from the race for the Vice-President role because it will show failure in his character.

President Jackson selects who he wants in Senator Laine Hanson (Allen). It isn’t long before Shelly Runyon (Oldman) the judge of the committee of the confirmation procedure and young upstart Reginald Webster (Slater) to try and expose the secrets of Laine so they can select Hathaway as Vice-President.

As the confirmation committee continue their questioning Laine’s personal life is opened for all to see, leaving her to find herself folding on her own morals or fight back against the people exposing her life’s decisions.


Thoughts on The Contender


Characters/PerformanceLaine is a senator who gets thrust into the public spotlight as the lead contender to be Vice-President, she has led a life that does have secrets but nothing illegal, she wants to stand by her morals if she is given the role even though she is going to get her past exposed. Shelly is the man trying to plan his own decision on who will be the next Vice-President, he has been planning to get one over the President’s choice.  President Jackson is a strong man, a leader who keeps his cards close to his chest but also knows how to keep the people he is scouting near him to learn their motives. The rest of the characters are all great throughout to work within their roles in how the events will unfold.

Performance wise, Joan Allen is fantastic in the lead role of this movie showing all the integrity needed for a Vice-Presidential candidate. Gary Oldman as always is fantastic in his role that you barely even know it is him. Jeff Bridges even in a supporting role is gripping to see as we do just want to see where his performance will take us. Each and every supporting performance is great through this film and completely worth watching as one of their best.

StoryA story that focuses on the ideas of what would make a good Vice-President, we see how events in their lives are not important to where they are now, we also see how their beliefs shouldn’t be a factor when it comes to making the right decisions for the country. We see how the contenders can go out of their way to make something happen but most importantly we see how they can be honest when it comes to making the right choices.

ThrillerThe film does keep us on edge throughout the story unfolding as we are looking to see what the next secret could be and if it could damage the campaign.

SettingsThe settings all come off how you would expect with the story unfolding, we have the White House, the courtroom and her own personal home where each detail is learnt about.

Final ThoughtsWhen it comes to political thrillers this is easily one of the best you will see, it is a must watch for the fans of the genre and the heavyweight performances show us this.


Overall: Political masterclass of a film.




Room (2015)

roomDirector: Lenny Abrahamson

Writer: Emma Donoghue (Screenplay) Emma Donoghue (Novel)

Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridges, Wendy Crewson, Joan Allen, William H Macy


Plot: After five-year-old Jack and his mother escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery: the outside world.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Incredible, Wow, a Masterpiece


Story: Room starts on Jack’s (Tremblay) 5th birthday, Jack lives in a room with his mother Ma (Larson), they have lived there for at least all of Jack’s life getting what they need from Old Nick (Bridges) who visits while Jack sleeps. The two are imprisoned in the Room where Ma has to lie to her own son about the world to protect him from Old Nick. The truth is easy even if shocking to deal with but once they escape Jack learns about the world for the first time, while Ma has to deal with the changes the world has gone through since she was last outside the jack

Room does something not a single before it has ever done, it shows the real effects of what would happen to a mother who had experienced the outside world before being imprisoned as well as showing how leaving a Room for the first time can open up the eyes to the innocent. The film could have only covered the action, thriller mystery side of the story along with a criminal case but this only shows the human effects to our two victims. When it comes to story we get to see something almost perfect that will stick with you for years to come, because this could happen to someone in real life.


Actor Review


Brie Larson: Ma is the mother of Jack, she has taught him that everything in the room is all that there is until one day she decides to tell him the truth as they look to escape the room and discover the world for themselves. Brie gives one of the best performance of the year throughout here.

Jacob Tremblay: Jack is the young boy just turning five living in the room with his mother. He gives us his version of the world showing how innocent he is even through the situation which he is in happens to be much more serious. Jacob is brilliant in this role for such a young actor.

Support Cast: Room has a supporting cast that all gives great performance helping with the changes that Ma and Jack have to go through.

Director Review: Lenny AbrahamsonLenny gives us a film that will end up being one that sticks with you for years and will be one of the best seen this year.


Drama: Room shows the effects that the situation would have on the victims showing just how difficult it would be continuing.

Settings: Room uses the settings brilliantly with the room being the prison and seeing how Jack sees the world for the first time feels innocent throughout.
: Room is a film you simply have to go and watch. (Must Watch)


Best Part: I am only going to mention the time it happens as not to give away what it is, just before the Hour mark.

Worst Part: Nothing.


Believability: While the story is fictional, the reality this could have happened or be happening.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Awards: Nominated for 3 Golden Globes including Best Picture, Actress and Screenplay, along with a string of awards.

Oscar Chances: This is be nominated and should win a few.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

Tagline: Love knows no boundaries


Overall: Brilliant, stunning, get my thesaurus to fill in the rest of the superlatives for this film.


Pleasantville (1998)

logoDirector: Gary Ross

Writer: Gary Ross (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, William H Macy, Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels, J.T. Walsh, Don Knotts, Marley Shelton, Jane Kaczmarek, Paul Walker, Maggie Lawson


Plot: Two 1990s teenagers find themselves in a 1950s sitcom where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Good Story of Accepting Change

Story: Pleasantville starts showing us there will be a Pleasantville marathon showing on TV Time before introducing us to the main character David (Maguire) an awkward teenager. David’s favourite television show is Pleasantville which gives him a chance to watch over the weekend. We continue to learn that David knows everything to know about the show and plans to try and win a contest. David just so happens to have a sister Jennifer (Witherspoon) who see the chance of the house without parents as a chance to impress the cool guy from school leading to a fight between the two.

When the remote control gets damaged a mysterious repair man turns up at the house to fix the problem. As the siblings arguing they find themselves inside the show trapped by the repair man. The two have to learn to get on with life in this new reality where David with thieve but Jennifer has to learn to adapt. The two characters they have been forced to play are the children to George (Macy) and Betty (Allen). The two have to continue to learn to adapt and play along with the new world they are in until they can find a way to find a way home.

Jennifer decides to play by her own rules which starts to change the town bring colour into the black and white world. It isn’t long before the people in the town start being affect by the change before long the town ends up getting caught up in the middle of battle between the coloured and the black & white residents of the town.

Pleasantville is a beautiful story of two different generation clash with consequences that will change both the points of view. We do get the typical two teenagers one being good and one being difficult rather than bad who learn lesson that they haven’t in their normal life. we also get to see how being part of a routine can feel too comfortable and the moment you start breaking it anything becomes possible for you. This also teaches us to treat everyone the same with no expectation and to express yourself in whatever drives you forward. Looking back over the film it is a very good story that can be enjoyed by most people. (8/10)


Actor Review

Tobey Maguire: David is an awkward high school teenager who has an unhealthy obsession with Pleasantville television show, when his favourite show is going to be showing a marathon he is extra excited but ends up fighting with his sister and getting trapped inside Pleasantville. David knows how to get along with everything there but it isn’t long before the world starts changing and he must find a way to get home. Tobey gives a good leading performance showing that he was going to be a good actor to turn to for these types of roles. (7/10)


Reese Witherspoon: Jennifer is the popular girl at school and David’s sister who ends up getting trapped inside Pleasantville. Unlike David it isn’t normal to her and she ends up changing the ways of life in the town. Reese showed that she can have range with this role as we get to see the fully transformation of her character through the film. (8/10)


William H Macy: George Parker is the father of the household inside the Pleasantville life style who can’t cope with the changes going through the town. William gets to play a role we will become used to seeing him performance with this role. (7/10)


Joan Allen: Betty Parker is the mother of the house that the kids get trapped in who tries to keep her household together through the changes even when she wants to embrace those changes. Joan does a good job in the supporting role which will make you notice she can play plain supporting roles. (7/10)


Jeff Daniels: Bill Johnson is the malt shop owner who gets caught up trying to focus on changing because he is too scared to actually change. Jeff continued to show how he was capable to walk away from slapstick comedy and become a good serious actor here. (7/10)

Support Cast: Pleasantville has a supporting cast that includes a whole town and some good early supporting roles from stars who went onto bigger things including Paul Walker, Maggie Lawson and Marlon Shelton.

Director Review: Gary Ross – Gary does a good job directing manage to mix a visual story with a very good story about being different. (8/10)


Drama: Pleasantville shows the different between two different generations and just how when they clash both will realize they need change. (8/10)

Fantasy: Pleasantville takes our two lead characters and puts them into a world they have never seen before which works for the fantasy element of the story. (8/10)

Settings: Pleasantville has a brilliant setting showing how simple people once thought life was compared to the new fast forward life we are now in. (9/10)
Special Effects
: Pleasantville uses great effects to mix the black and white characters with the colour characters with only parts in colour throughout. (9/10)

Suggestion: Pleasantville is a must watch. (Must watch)


Best Part: The mix between colour and black and white.

Worst Part: You can work out what will happen by the end.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for 3 Oscars including Art Direction, Costume Design and Best Music Original Dramatic Score

Box Office: $50 Million

Budget: $40 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

Tagline: Nothing Is As Simple As Black And White.


Overall: Pleasantville is a beautifully shot film that is visual great and has a story to match it all.

Rating 80

A Good Marriage (2014)

logoDirector: Peter Askin

Writer: Stephen King (Short Story)

Starring: Joan Allen, Anthony LaPaglia, Stephen Lang, Cara Buono, Kristen Connolly, Mike O’Malley, Theo Stockman, Will Rogers


Plot: After 25 years of a good marriage, what will Darcy do once she discovers her husband’s sinister secret?


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Disappointingly Dull


Story: A Good Marriage starts with the anniversary party of Darcy (Allen) and Bob Anderson (LaPaglia) with their grown up children Petra (Connolly) and Donnie (Stockman). Everything on the outside looks like it is going great for the couple and what could possibly be shocking about them? The couple seem to have a follower in Holt Ramsey (Lang) but why?

Darcy’s life takes a sudden change when searching for batteries she finds a hidden box with the drivers licences of woman who are found dead. As Darcy struggles to deal with the realisation that she is married to a serial killer we watch how Bob is tracking down him latest victim while away on business. We have to watch how Bob and Darcy try to work through the problems because spilling the secret could ruin the family.

A Good Marriage really does end up coming off very dull, the concept sounds very interesting. I feel this story should have been a hell of a lot tenser because of the action of the husband especially with the idea that the wife doesn’t want to destroy her children’s lives with the secret. I can honestly say I was expecting a look into the husband’s killing and an actual confrontation rather than just a calm talking about his actions. Overall the story doesn’t come off very well at all and I can honestly say this will disappoint any and all the Stephen King Fans out there. (2/10)


Actor Review


Joan Allen: Darcy Anderson is the loving mother and wife who discovers her husband’s secret. Darcy has to try and figure out what to do because talking will destroy the family but she also knows the next victim will now be here fault. Joan does a solid job but doesn’t reach the levels you would expect to make you feel like her character is scared or keeping a brave face. (5/10)


Anthony LaPaglia: Bob Anderson is the account husband of Darcy who has been living a different life behind his family’s back as a serial killer. When his wife discovers his secret he has to convince her not to go to the cops and ruin the life the children think they have had. Anthony is an actor I would expect to be able to play this role really well but he doesn’t seem to get into the role enough to make us believe he is a killer. (3/10)


Support Cast: A Good Marriage has a supporting cast that are mostly people Darcy is trying to protect from the truth, but it also has a man trying to find out the truth about the killer.


Director Review: Peter Askin – Peter doesn’t give us enough tension in a film that should be filled to the rim with tension because of the subject matter. (3/10)


Thriller: A Good Marriage is a film that should be filled with tension but this manages to let it all go without capitalising on the idea. (2/10)

Settings: A Good Marriage keeps the settings great because the idea would be that the killer is in plain sight living a normal life. (9/10)

Suggestion: A Good Marriage has to go down as one to avoid because it really does disappoint trying to tell an easy story. (Avoid)


Best Part: Hard to find anything.

Worst Part: No Tension.

Improve Ideas: High tension level.


Believability: The idea does come from a real serial killer but the outcome on film doesn’t really work. (3/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

Trivia: This is Stephen King’s first self-adapted screenplay since “Pet Sematary,” which was released 25 years earlier. The last feature film script he wrote was “Sleepwalkers,” released in 1992. Since then he has written TV movies, mini-series and shows, such as “The Stand,” “The Shining” and “Kingdom Hospital.”


Overall: Very disappointing thriller with no actual tension.

Rating 20