This powerful love story is based on Nicholas Sparks’ 1996 best-seller. As an elderly woman (Gena Rowlands) suffers with Alzheimer’s in a hospital, her husband (James Garner) tries to trigger memories of their marriage by reading from a journal that chronicles their life-long love for each other. A problem arises early in the story as the young woman, Allie (Rachel McAdams), is shown to have been intensely in love with two men. As a 17-year-old debutante in Charleston, S.C., she falls for a young mill worker (Ryan Gosling) in 1940. But her mother (Joan Allen) intervenes and sends her off to college. After her college years, she is happily engaged to the new love of her life, a Southern gentleman (James Marsden). A chance encounter brings her face to face with her first love after many years apart. Allie is left with a heart-wrenching choice, revealing at last which man is reading their life story in the hospital room.
Allie’s husband demonstrates a life-long commitment to his spouse “in sickness or in health.” He never leaves her side, and his unfailing devotion and love for her is an inspiring portrait of marriage. The film did unfortunately contain an intimate sex scene between a man and woman outside of the context of marriage. There is some crude language and profanity, but it is moderate compared to many PG-13 films. The overall moral content of the film is less than admirable but is also comparatively mild.