out of Five
Running time: 104
Watchable romance with an intriguing premise and engaging performances from both Tatum and McAdams, though the script never really explores its central idea and it's not quite the Notebook-style weepie it obviously wants to be.
What's it all about?
Directed by Michael Sucsy, The Vow (a terrible title) is loosely based on a true story and stars Rachel McAdams as Paige, a happily married artist who's planning a family with her devoted husband Leo (Channing Tatum). However, after a car accident, Paige wakes up from a coma to discover that she can't remember the last five years of her life and has no recollection of her husband or their life together.
To complicate things still further, Paige believes she's still close to her estranged parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) and is still in love with Jeremy (Scott Speedman), the man she was engaged to five years ago. And while there's an obvious spark between them, Leo finds that he has to win Paige's heart all over again, despite the fact that her parents don't approve of their relationship.
McAdams and Tatum both have substantial romantic weepies (The Notebook and Dear John, respectively) under their belts, so their casting seems both practical and inevitable (can a Ryan Gosling/Amanda Seyfried romance be far behind?). At any rate, it pays off, as there's genuine chemistry between them and McAdams is a likeable enough actress that you forgive her character's occasional bouts of unsympathetic behaviour, such as making a play for Speedman.
The script's premise is intriguing and touches on the capacity of the human memory to be both fascinating and terrifying. It also builds to a climax that's genuinely romantic and moving, though not quite in the way you expect.
One unusual aspect of the film is that the story is largely told from Leo's point of view, which makes sense on one level (after all, he suffers too), but scales back on Paige's terrifying experience in the process, so the script never quite explores the premise's more interesting ideas. Similarly, Tatum fans will be disappointed to learn that it takes him over an hour to punch someone, though his shirt does come off at regular intervals, so the film isn't entirely unaware of its target audience.
The Vow never quite hits the gloriously weepy heights that it's obviously aiming for, but it's still a watchable and engaging romantic drama with strong performances from McAdams and Tatum.