Following the tradition of Fried Green Tomatoes, this romantic weepy relates a tale in the hope that its modern-day protagonists ù who may well have played a part in the story themselves - will be better for hearing it.
But, on film at least, this story might have been better without its modern-day protagonists, played by James Garner and Gena Rowlands (Cassavetes' mother). Garner's narration smacks of greeting-card sentiment and the Alzheimer's storyline, in which Rowlands' character has lost her memory, is oversimplified.
Thank goodness, then, for the magic created by young stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, whose intense romance is played out with conviction and an infectious joie de vivre. Little in their journey is unexpected: you're waiting for the obstacle (after all, what self-respecting young lady in the 1940s would have been seen without two handsome suitors to compete over her?), and the solution is not hard to spot, either.
But thanks to delightful characters, careful pacing and a stirring score, this film achieves the distinction of being exceptionally moving without anyone major having to die.