I first read the book in 7th grade and didn't really get it, though I had friends who loved it. My father told me that was ok. I tried it again later when I was in high school or college, and didn't really get it. It'sa good story, but I wanted something more with it. I read Love Story 2 and 3, looking for more and not finding it. I actually became a bigger Erich Segal fan out of this quest.
So, I watch it now and I do like the sharp dialogue between Jenny & Oliver. I don't understand Ali McGraw's accent in the movie, since it sounds "upper crust". Yet, it grows on you. I do like movies with smart women because I cannot stand it when the guy falls for the girl who just stood there..by the flowers.. enraptured by her beauty..violins playing in the back. It doesn't happen like that. I was disappointed in "Four Weddings & a Funeral" when Hugh Grant falls for Andie McDowell before she even talks. On the flip side, you have "After Sunset" and "Before Sunrise" that show the couple falling into love with the dialogue and revealing their personalities. That's what makes more sense.
The part that always stumped me was the "love means never having to say you're sorry." What does that mean? Does it mean that when you love someone you won't do anything that will require you to say sorry? (Ahem, certain congressmen and governors!) Does it mean that when you love someone you will automatically forgive them and they don't need to say sorry? You already accept them with their flaws.
Compared to today's standards, the movie just glossed over Jenny's illness. Think of "StepMom" where Susan Sarandon has cancer and it becomes a stronger part of the story. I once read a book about young girls with cancer and they had criticized Ali McGraw for looking so glamorous in the movie.
Lastly, Ryan O'Neal. Wow. His acting was flawless. I need to go dig up more 70's movies with him.