Making its debut on Starz this weekend was this winter’s surprise smash hit, “The Vow”.
Starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams, “The Vow”‘s strategic Valentine’s weekend release helped it open at number one and stay strong on the chart, remaining in the top ten for six weeks and grossing just under $200 million worldwide.
It’s the story of a woman who loses her memory in a car accident, and as a result, forgets the entire period of time when she knew her husband. He’s a complete stranger to her. As a result, he has to fight to regain her affection all over again.
The question that easily presents itself is: Is “The Vow” memorable, or is it best forgotten?
“The Vow” opens with an automobile accident.
While stopped at a stop sign, a married couple’s car is rear ended by a truck that couldnt stop due to the snowy road conditions. The wife, Paige (Rachel McAdams) had unbuckled her seat belt momentarily, and winds up going through the windshield. Her husband Leo (Channing Tatum) still had his seat belt on, and remains uninjured. After the car accident, Paige is kept in a medically induced coma for a brief time.
When she is brought out of it, she has no recollection of Leo whatsoever.
Which, obviously, creates an awkward and uncomfortable situation. It’s very disorienting for her to be told she loves someone, that they live together, etc., when she can’t even recognize him. Complicating the situation is the fact that prior to the accident – the period she DOES recall – she led a very different life. She was almost a completely different person. She can’t recall dropping out of law school in order to become an artist, or breaking up with her ex-fiance. As far as she remembers, she’s still studying law and still engaged… to a man she knew before she met her husband. She also doesn’t recall having a falling out with her parents (played by Sam Neill and Jessica Lange), who see her memory loss as an opportunity to reintegrate themselves into her life.
So not only does Leo face the challenge of trying to take care of Paige in spite of being a stranger to her, he also has to overcome obstacles from a handful of people who are suddenly provided a clean slate on their damaged relationship with her. He has to start from square one, taking her back out on dates and trying to make her fall in love, all over again, and all the while the people from her past are causing interference.
The audience for this movie is most likely looking for an emotional experience, and not necessarily a thought-provoking narrative. In that regard, this movie will deliver. Tatum faithfully follows McAdams about like a watchdog, and demonstrates this romanticized level of love for her that… really only exists in movies. He has this dogged devotion and insane passion for her that seems to belong to a Hollywood romance. And the audience that’s tuning in to this is probably going to expect that, and appreciate it.
There are a number of things that detract from the movie, for me though. There are sporadic bursts of awkward narration, provided by Channing Tatum that just really, really clank off of the rim. I also realize this movie is based loosely off of actual events, but the fact that everyone in McAdam’s character’s life wants a do over seems too convenient. Contrived. She doesn’t just lose her memory, she loses her memory of a time where she really changed as a person… thus the amnesia makes her have a change in personality in addition to the loss of memory. Plus, there were so many times where her character makes baffling choices, even considering her memory loss.
Romances aren’t my forté to begin with, but this one has enough farfetched elements to bring out the roll eyes for me. Still, I’d have to imagine that fans of the genre… those who enjoy these Hollywood Harlequin romances will be pleased.