Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams in "The Vow"
Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) are a beautiful, young trendy couple, newly married and so deep in love they can’t have breakfast without one reminding the other how “happy you make me”. Obviously these two are headed for tragedy.
Many movies work towards a resolving climax where young lovers finally come together and we are left to imagine how bright their future will be. The Vow serves us that on a platter in the opening credits.
They are quickly involved in a car accident which leaves Paige with amnesia; remembering nothing about Leo – only her parents, sister and former fiancée Jeremy (Scott Speedman).
As you can imagine, Leo is in deep trouble. Not only is Jeremy still in love with Paige and hoping to exploit her accident to rekindle their love, Paige’s parents are evil stereotype parents who only exist in young person romance films.
Leo is a very nice man; polite, kind, in love with Paige, supportive of her dreams (she’s a creative sculptor!) and has a fairly stable income. Why they hate him is the thing of cliché – they’re all lawyers so therefore they have no souls. Go figure.
Leo has to make Paige fall in love with him again while the forces of evil (parents) try to pull them apart.
What makes a film like this successful is really dependant on the star chemistry. McAdams is charming and likeable; she has one of those faces that lights up the screen and it’s impossible not to love her. Tatum is also solid as the loyal husband. He even gets the tears flowing when he has to, proving he is more of a thespian than that awful G.I. Joe film would suggest.
Yet there’s a key element missing in this mix needed to raise The Vow above mediocrity and into the realm of great romance films.
McAdams is best known for The Notebook – a great romance picture. By contrast Tatum is also well known for the weepy melodrama Dear John, a flawed film for sure, but one with a harder emotional edge.
I guess the problem here isn’t the stars, the storyline or the onscreen chemistry. It’s a failure on the part of The Vow to take amnesia seriously. The Notebook and Dear John both deal with serious issues like Alzheimer’s and autism with a degree of sincerity and intelligence.
The Vow uses amnesia as a plot device to get the ball rolling. After the initial impact this movie becomes pure soap opera, saved partially by the strong performances.