Rachel McAdams as a memory impaired wife coping with the trials and tribulations it causes her marriage. No, this isn’t The Notebook. Channing Tatum as a devoted and caring partner who has to fight for his lover. No, this is not Dear John. This is The Vow but you’d be forgiven for being mistaken.
The Vow is inspired by the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter who, after being involved in a car accident, have to deal with Krickitt losing all memory of their marriage and relationship, rendering Kim a stranger.
Tatum occupies the role of recording studio owner Leo Collins opposite McAdams as his wife, Paige. When fate deals the pair a cruel blow, Paige awakens from a coma with her brain having effectively reset to a time before they had met, let alone married. As Paige attempts to rekindle her relationship with the man she believes she is engaged to, old flame Jeremy (Scott Speedman), Leo fights to make her fall in love with him again while keeping her away from Jeremy’s clutches. Paige’s meddling family provide stiff challenges for Leo as they use her new-found forgetfulness to build bridges they had previously irrevocably burned.
Although Tatum and McAdams compliment each other well as the troubled lovers, tugging at many a heart string, the film suffers from too much familiarity, evident in a seemingly unambitious casting procedure. Since her rise to fame in teen flick Mean Girls, McAdams has become a veteran of the tearjerkers. With The Notebook and The Time Traveller’s Wife under her belt, The Vow appears to be one too many and it leaves the film with a distinct feeling of deja vu, distracting from a tender love story. McAdams is undoubtedly talented and turns in a solid performance but ultimately, The Vow would have benefited from some more creative casting.
In recent years, Tatum has attempted to branch out from being the standard on-screen male eye candy to adopt a number of more sensitive roles. His turn in Dear John showed his capability and he continues this in The Vow. His chemistry with McAdams is tangible with some appropriately-pitched comical quips, but ultimately the characters are undone somewhat by the predictability of their source material.
The true story is a touching tale of a couple battling through a bizarre and unthinkable twist of fate. However, it becomes apparent that there can only be one way the story can end and not many routes it can take to get there, leaving the climax somewhat expected and flat.
They are supported by a more than competent cast with Scott Speedman managing to engender sympathy and disgust in equal measure rather than simply being the focus of the audience’s hatred. Sam Neill and Jessica Lange, whose portrayal of a mother torn between family loyalty and self-preservation, are highlights of the film.
Although by no means an unpleasant feature to watch, The Vow never really reaches the heights of other celebrated tearjerkers such as Ghost thanks to an all too familiar formula and even more familiar main cast not very well hidden behind a previously unexplored set of circumstances.
Leo: ‘You figured it out once. You’ll do it again’.
Best scene: When Paige confronts her mother about the family’s skeletons in the closet. Jessica Lange delivers a painfully poignant perspective.
Watch this if you liked: Dear John, The Time Traveller’s Wife, The Notebook.