Inspired by real events, the Vow takes a cold hard look at how we are who we are because we're made up of memories that shape our lives, and if taken away from us, we can almost be someone else, because we're robbed of what we had remembered, and from there the experiences drawn that craft our actions and reactions. Not to mention the opportunity to relive and take a different path in choices presented, although what we cannot have is to rewind the ticking biological clock that continues to surge forward.
If five recent years of our lives were to be wiped out and we cannot remember what had transpired, with scant records lying around and even so they don't do squat in jogging our memories, how would we cope, and how would others, especially loved ones or enemies even, cope? There will be frustration as normalcy is slowly eased into a life we never knew, loved ones will be exasperated when we spurn their care and concern because they're strangers to us now, and enemies may find it timely to exact revenge, or take the easy path to reconciliation since we cannot remember what had transpired.
This forms the premise for The Vow, which starts off just as the trailer presented, with married couple Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) getting involved in a car accident, and Paige suffering the brunt of the impact because she had her seat belt unbuckled (traffic safety warning so subtly sneaked in). In a comatose state, Paige cannot remember who Leo is after she wakes up, and thus begins the road forward in trying to jolt her back to remembering what would be the best years of their lives in Chicago.
A good part of the film transpires in flashbacks to set the movie firmly in the romance genre, showing how the couple met, their courtship, their marriage and lifestyle, with him still involved in a sunset industry with the setting up of a recording studio, and she pursuing the dream of being an artist much to her parent's disdain in wanting her to become a lawyer. Played by Sam Neill and Jessica Lange, Paige parent's see the chance to reclaim their estranged daughter back into the household which Leo fights tooth and nail against, and Lep's story dwells a lot on this contention on which party should be able to provide the best care - the one with money, or the one with love.
Complication and challenges come from an ex-fiance (Scott Speedman) who sees it apt to try and woo back his one time love without much effort since in Paige's mind she's still engaged to him, and not married to Leo, and with Paige's automatic drift toward her graduate school days and her friends then, leaving Leo pretty much in the lurch when he decides to tag along just to make sure she's safe.
With the leads having cut their teeth in Nicholas Sparks film adaptations to date with The Notebook and Dear John, both Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum I might add, have what it takes to play lovebird in a romantic film outside of the Sparks series. McAdams nails it playing almost two characters, one spoilt and very much dependent on others, and the other fiercely independent who leads her own life the way she wants to. This causes trouble and pain for Leo, which Tatum to my surprise tackles it quite well, having come from being a dancer to an action star and perhaps now a bona fide romantic lead.
Together they share incredible chemistry that makes you root for their coming back together again somehow, especially with Leo's lofty ideals that wooing his wife all over again will be a walk in the park and a piece of cake since she had done it before and will perhaps do it again, but I guess the harsh reality is that it's never that simple to expand effort and not expect something in return, which in this case expectations built by one does prove to be a bummer when the returns aren't exactly what was planned for, especially with the increasing amounts of cold shoulders, being ignored and witnessing someone carry on their lives as if you don't exist.
What I thought was interesting in the narrative is how it played out almost like a time travel movie, where we're presented the current timeline, that got interrupted and we go back to a past where the couple hasn't met yet, and then from that point tangent off into an entirely new timeline in itself. Moments become a big deal in the film as the monologue narration makes a huge point about the impact that moments can have, and in some ways it's true to life if you reflect upon what makes you, and how you remember events in specific, memorable snapshots.
Released during the Valentine's Day week in the USA and only finding its way to our shores now, The Vow will still pack an emotional punch for couples out there who will likely flock to this like bees to honey, and Kleenex may be the order of the day as well. It's really very standard lovey dovey moments and time spent apart that drives everyone in the film, but just how it played out in the end really served to anchor this with a heavy dose of reality without the need to pander to the general romantic inclinations of how a romantic movie must end. I like possibilities, and The Vow firmly delivered on that promise.