“The Notebook” and “The Vow”: More than Romantic Movies

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The Notebook directed by Nick Cassavetes and The Vow by Michael Sucsy are successful motivational and captivating romantic movies. The films have similar plots, with the main characters portrayed as lovers, whose romantic stories are used as a basis to overcome their contemporary predicaments. The directors used seemingly similar storylines, where the memories of specific characters were jolted using the tales of their love. Although the situations in which memory is used to alter an individual’s psychology is unique to each movie, the effect of the past on the present remains the baseline in both scripts. Both films independently explore the nature of fate and free will as well as the dominant manner in which people interact. Therefore, the paper compares and contrasts the movies: The Notebook and The Vow by critically analyzing the plot, theme, styles, and character development, among other factors.  



The Notebook is a love story between Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling). Ally left Noah after their summer romance during their teenage years, but decades later, their love was rekindled when Ally was in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer syndrom. Noah took her home, and she read from the diary notebook of their life together. While Allie was reading, flashes of their memory as teenagers came back, and it did not take long for the two to become inseparable. On the other hand, The Vow is a film about two newweds, Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum). After a romantic evening, a fatal head-on collision sends Paige (who is madly in love with Leo) through the windshield. She was admitted to the hospital, where she remained in a coma for several days. When Paige woke up, it became evident that she had memory lapse. Leo was devastated, yet determined to bring her home. After a tussle between the two and Paige’s parents, she eventually moved in with them. Eventually, the influence of her parents and the past life led her to file a divorce, and Leo reluctantly agreed. However, the story ends with the love birds meeting each other years later, which made their love rekindled.


 The overarching theme in The Notebook is: love conquers all. No matter the setbacks faced by Allie and Noah, their love eventually brought them back together. First, they faced the pressure of their parents, and their separation was compounded by distinct social positions. Allie’s mother hid the letters from Noah and pressured her to give up on painting, a talent inspired by Noah. Later, their four-year-old son died, and even worse, Allie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (Wasowski 10). The Notebook ends on a somewhat promising note after Allie remembers Noah and uses her free will to decide whom to marry. Despite all the challenges, nothing could keep them apart from each other. In contrast, the most important theme in the movie The Vow is perseverance of a romantic hero in pursuing his heroine. Leo stood against the pressures of Paige’s parents, her previous fiancé, and the society, with the hope that Paige would recall their love. Freewill affected the fate of both Leo and Paige because the latter was not in a condition to remember her husband and willingly detach herself from him. Patience and tenacity is an attribute that Leo continuously upheld until Paige got back some bits of her memory.

Stylistic Devices

The Notebook effectively uses color, costume, character, and editing to reinforce the theme of love. Colors influence the way the audience perceive the love story. Episodes that show Ally and Noah together are painted white pink, blue, and green. For their dates, Ally wore bright and a pastel color dress, and when they parted ways, both wore grey and boring colored clothes (Wasowski 11). Moreover, Ryan Gosling (Noah) fits the role of a young and careless Lad, while Rachel McAdams (Allie) perfectly fits the role of an educated cheerful beauty. Their gestures, movements, and facial expressions enable the audience to feel empathy. To ascertain that there is a correlation between the free will and fate, the director used flashback. Actually, The Notebook is entirely built on this technique. As the film starts, an elderly man, who is the first narrator, is telling the story of two lovers to an Alzheimer female patient laying on a hospital bed. The plot of the movie then professionally deviates from the two older adults and focuses on the love story of two youngsters who existed long time ago. Therefore, it can be justly stated that the plot of The Notebook

is built on flashback.

            The use of foreshadowing and flashback in The Vow is apparent as well. After the divorce, Paige is depicted working in law school class sketching the outline of the same sculpture that she had abandoned prior the accident, which can be considered a scene of foreshadowing as she slowly reacquainted herself with the things she used to love. The Vow

draws its meaning only in the face of flashback (Carpenter 24). The life of Leo and Paige before the accident is only highlighted in a throwback manner. Although the audience does not know the kind of life the two couples in the movie lived, the author adds a flashback so that memory loss experienced by Paige could have its intended effect (Wasowski 31).In the final scene, Paige bumps into Leo, and it is expected that they ended up re-uniting despite their tragic history.


Both movies are Hollywood romance stories expressing true love through tragedy and laughter. In the Notebook, Nick Cassavetes made an effort in avoiding a sentimental and sappy romance movie. Principally, the movie tries to pass the message that everything may not be bright and sunny, but it can still remain beautiful and romantic. Simirlaly, Michael Sucsy ensures that the The Vow is acted in a simple and friendly manner, with the use of symbols, rhetoric, and beautiful metaphors highlighting the love between Paige and Leo (Carpenter 35).

In addition, both movies are inspired by real-life events. The Vow is based on a real tragedy that happened to Kim and Krickitt Carpenter. In the accident, Kim was hurt, and his wife lost her memory. Despite these happenings, her husband stuck around. Simirlaly, The Notebook is based on Nicholas’ grandparents love story. The bits and pieces from the real life of Nicholas was converted to the movie. Furthermore, both movies involve characters from different social positions in the society (Sparks 24).

            In both films, the script provides the viewers with an opportunity to see Hollywood sweet heart Rachel McAdams in a story of ill-fated lover, whose relationship prevails despite the obviously overwhelming obstacles. In The Vow, the actress is paired with Channing Tatum, a character who is considered different from The Notebook’s Ryan Gosling. However, both stories seek to express the theme of undying and endless love (Carpenter 30).

External Factors Affecting Relationships

The concept of how fortune is used in both The Notebook and The Vow to bring out the impression of how the outside forces impact the couples’ romantic destinies is exemplary.  

The couples in both stories are in love and willing to live the rest of their lives together. Noah and Allie from The Notebook were spending a beautiful summer together. As their love grew, one can easily speculate that their love story would have a happy ending. However, their courtship was short lived after Allie's family and their socio-economic disparities dismantled their union (Wasowski 25). The Vow also shows the dictation of the environment on one’s fate and destiny. The movie tells the story of two lovers who divorced due to the pressure from Paige’s parents.

In summary, both movies are more than romantic films because they represent how a person’s destiny can be dictated by external aspects of one’s environment. Moreover, the movies maintain that an individual is the fundamental determinant of one’s fate, but there is a chance that outside factors will change the course of a person’s destiny. The paper compares and contrasts the two movies by focusing on the settings, character development, stylistic devices, and themes. Whereas the two films have different plot settings, the ultimate lesson remains the same. Stylistically, the two movies are different, but feature the prominent use of a single technique, which is pivotal to the superiority of the two movies as love stories.

Works Cited

Carpenter, Kim et al. The Vow. Detroit, Gale, Cengage Learning, 2012.

Wasowski, R.P. Cliffsnotes on Nicholas Sparks' “The Notebook”. Hoboken, N.J., Wiley Pub., 2013.

Sparks, Nicholas. The Notebook. New York: Warner Books, 2000.

August 21, 2023


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Film Analysis The Notebook

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