Paige (Rachel McAdams) and her husband Leo (Channing Tatum) are in a car accident. While Leo’s injuries are not very severe, Paige suffers brain damage. When she regains consciousness, it becomes clear that Paige cannot remember her husband or the years they spent together, so Leo vows to win her heart again.
Rachel McAdams is a decent actress, so why she insists on doing movies painfully similar to The Notebook is baffling. This, like The Notebook and The Time Traveller’s Wife, is another story of lovers that are pulled apart and spend all their time floating in and out of one another’s lives. In fact, Paige even has a speech about how she and Leo had a romantic evening in a boathouse once, which smacks of the famous rowboat scene in The Notebook. As well as this, there is the vaguely anachronistic nature of her relationship with Leo that is reminiscent of The Time Traveller’s Wife. The Vow feels like a very similar movie that will be packaged in a DVD box set with the afore mentioned titles in years to come.
McAdams plays her standard character; a nice girl with issues that keep her apart from the one she truly loves. This is nothing that we haven’t seen McAdams do before, so we know that she will be just fine in the role. Channing Tatum plays her ever loving and ever patient husband Leo. Tatum is rather sweet in the role, but his performance feels a little superficial; Tatum rarely allows the character to be anything but by the book, so it is in the unexpected, unscripted moments that the depth of the character shines through. Sadly, these moments are too few and too far between to allow the character to develop. Leo is perhaps the most patient man in the history of time; he gently guides Paige towards reminders of her life, and even tries to start dating her again without any prior history. That was never going to work though, as Paige’s parents – Sam Neil and Jessica Lange – are determined to win their estranged daughter back.
The Vow is inspired by a true story, in real life the woman never regained her memory and it seems that the same is going to be true for Paige. The movie crawls along at a seriously painful pace, and when it seems that the couple are actually going to try and be together it is almost too late, the audience has lost interest in this trendy hipster couple who live in a beautiful apartment in Chicago, which is only paid for with their art.
Director Michael Sucsy was nominated for many awards for his previous work, The Grey Garden, but with The Vow he has erred on the side of romantic drama caution and turned what could have been an interesting look at the nature of memory into a saccharine sweet meditation on love and what people will do for those they adore.
The Vow will win fans in the single female community, and it is sure to do well due to the proximity of it’s release date to Valentine’s Day. There is a good movie in there, but it is drowned in sugar. The characters are hard to relate to; their choices appear to be the exact opposite of what people would do in a real life situation. Fans of The Notebook and the weepy romantic drama will be in their element, but there is very little substance to The Vow; it is sweet and melodramatic, but ultimately unfulfilling.