Director: Michael Sucsy
Cast: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Sam Neill, Jessica Lange, Jessica McNammy, Scott Speedman, Tatiana Maslany
Plot: Leo (Tatum) and Paige (McAdams) Collins are happily married, until a car crash wipes Paige’s memory, meaning that she has no memory of her husband or their love.
This is the kind of film that shows how much I dislike romantic movies. The Vow is based on a true story with clear potential in cinematic terms. However, seeing as it is told through the genre of romance, I think that the Vow slips into obscurity, wasting its great concept.
Don’t get me wrong, this movie kept me hooked, because, as I said, it does make for a gripping drama. Paige Collins is a happily married woman, until she suffers amnesia after a car accident. She wakes up, not realising that the man standing over her is her husband. The two of them try to come to terms with this new development. Paige sees her apparent love interest as a stranger. Leo wants to stay with her, but she is no longer the woman he remembers. Seeing as the last thing she remembers is being a teenage with her rich parents, she has not picked up her love for art or sculpting. She is a completely different person, leaving Leo at a loss of what is the right thing to do. He has vowed to stay with until death, yet is this the woman he married? I think the movie is smart to focus more on Leo than Paige, as his story is far more interesting. The amnesia thing has been done before, but the Vow finds new ground by showing us how those around the victim have to cope with it. As their relationship begins to understandably crumble, it is Leo’s conviction to beat the odds that really makes this movie.
I just really dislike how it is clearly being sold as the next biggest romance. The two leads are the clearest piece of evidence. Rachel McAdams is the queen of rom-coms and Channing Tatum was pretty much type-cast as the reluctant romantic lead back when this was released. Hell, if this wasn’t based on a true story, you might assume you were watching a Nicholas Sparks’ creation. Romance held back by an illness is the norm with these kind of films these days. This all adds to the idea that this film is very forgettable. The scenes where McAdams and Tatum are struggling together vaguely works (Tatum is surprisingly touching here), but the moment McAdams family is drawn into the matter, the rom-com stock characters come pouring out of the woodwork. Paige’s parents think that her marriage to someone below her class is a bad, temporary decision; Sam Neill and Jessica Lange are so far above the material that it is incredulous to imagine why they are even here. Scott Speedman plays the sleazy ex-boyfriend who realises that McAdams suffering amnesia is the perfect time to reattempt getting into her pants. We are given this really interesting premise, but along with it is the same romance movie that we have seen thousands of times before.
That being said I do like the way the film ends. I know that this is a true story, so maybe it is difficult to give the writers too much credit for the decision, but it was different, challenged the expectations of mainstream romance dramas and was touching. Again, this makes it even more annoying that this film is unable to escape the rigid structure of the genre.
Final Verdict: The Vow could have been good, and almost every actor tries to make it work, but the tired and tested formula of the romance movie weighs it down.