Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams) are deeply in love. And they express it every moment of every day. Watching them together, you would guess they are newly dating, rather than husband and wife.
On their way home one night, there is a terrible accident. Paige is thrown through the window of the car, suffering severe head injury. When she finally emerges from her medically induced coma, she is physically okay. But her memory of the last few years has completely disappeared.
Her parents (Jessica Lange and Sam Neill) are happy to see she is ok. And, perhaps, even more happy that her memory has been wiped clean. They haven’t spoken to her in years. After a falling out, Paige drops out of law school to go to art school. She leaves behind her upper class life, including all her friends and superficiality to take on a more down-to-earth life. (It is in this second life where she met and fell in love with Leo, a less well-to-do man who runs his own recording studio.)
Paige doesn’t remember any of her new life. Not Leo. Not her new friends. Nothing. Her parents insist she come home with them to heal. And return to her old life. Once she’s home, she effortlessly slips back into her old life. She highlights her hair. Wears the fancy clothes. And falls back in with her old circle of friends, including her ex-fiance.
During all of this, Leo is doing his best to make his wife fall in love with him. But every time he takes a step forward toward regaining his wife, something moves him two steps back. Can he find a way to finally win her back? Will she live the life her parents want her to live? Or will she find her way back to where she belongs?
The Vow is “based on actual events.” Which isn’t the same as based on a true story. To me, based on actual events means more creative license was given to the film. (Although, they do give an update on Paige and Leo at the end of the movie.) But either way, I can’t imagine going through even a pared down version of what this couple went though. It’s a heartrending story of a man who had his perfect life yanked out from under him. If nothing else, it makes you realize you can’t take anything for granted because you don’t know how long it will last.
It’s a good date movie. It has all the things a man should do to be romantic. The only bad thing is, it has all the things a man should do to be romantic. Making a lot of us men look bad.
The writing is pretty good. It’s based on actual events, which means a lot of it was already written for them. It did feel like things were rushed at times. Like they were hurrying to get past what were really major plot points to get to the next scene. Sometimes jumping ahead as much as six months without any real filling in of the blanks. There was a lot for them to fit in, so I’m sure this was necessary. At least the movie never really feels slow or dragging.
The acting was not bad, overall. Rachel McAdams doesn’t disappoint. She rarely does. And this type of movie really seems to be what she does well. Sam Neill and Jessica Lange fit in perfectly as the rich, uptight parents, even if they seem a bit overdone at times. And Channing Tatum. Oh, Channing. You try so hard. But for some reason, you just seem a little out-of-place in this movie. Not that he gives a bad performance. He just seems to stand out. Perhaps I still see him as the rebel from Step Up. He seemed more comfortable in that role. I don’t picture him living in a flat in Chicago with his artist wife. And please don’t wear that hat again.
My recommendation? Guys, take your wives/girlfriends. This is the type of movie they love. A true romance and a man who won’t give up on love. There’s no action or heavy comedy for the guys. But maybe you’ll walk away with a little more appreciation for what you’ve got.