Le Grand Cahier – THE NOTEBOOK – Rated R

The notebook - Foreign Film

Hungarian Director János Szász – brings to life his adaptation of Agota Kristof’s best selling novel – Le Grand Cahier – a.k.a. THE NOTEBOOK.

World War ii is raging on, as two 13 year old twins (Played by László and András Gyémánt) are forced to live with a mean and nasty woman – which happens to be the grandmother they have never met, until now –  in an attempt to save them from peril during the war at the hands of the Germans.  With their father at war, and their mother abandoning them, the boys try to adjust living with “THE WITCH”, as the townsfolk call her , and who very lovingly calls them her “bastards”.

Trying to come to terms with the inhumane world they have been thrust into – by staying together and helping one another survive – the twins work daily for the mere pittens that the “old codger” is willing to share with them – nothing like having to work for your food!

In an attempt to keep themselves sane, and to tell of the horrors they are enduring, they follow their father’s directions to write and draw everything that they encounter in their lives in the Notebook that he gave them before he left for war……How can they possibly keep track of everything  that has happened to them, and at the hands of almost everyone they encounter?

Will the boys be able to survive this HELL they have been thrust into?  Will their Mother or Father ever return to save them from sure peril at the hands of their grandmother, or the German’s who frequent their farm?  Or will the boys become as mean, cruel and nasty as everyone else in their hellish existence?

I give Le Grand Cahier (THE NOTEBOOK) – 1 out of 5 stars – Although I usually enjoy viewing foreign films, this film was so depressing and so dark, that I absolutely left the theater depressed and astounded by what I had just seen.  Make no mistake, this is not a re-release of the film THE NOTEBOOK that we love,  starring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling , as even the lowest moments portrayed in that film cannot come close to this very disturbing tale.  I was intrigued to see a film portrayed from the child’s perspective of what life was like during the war – which isn’t usually told – but Le Grand Cahier was just one depressing scene after another, making you want to save these poor children from their mundane existence each and every step of the way.  And even though Szász did manage to get this disturbing story onto the big screen, I really wish he wouldn’t have, as this is one of those films that after seeing,  you rush home to watch anything else, just to get the images of the film you just saw out of your mind!

Kathy Kaiser