Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Vow

If you've seen the preview, you know the story. And not just part of it - but almost the entirety. A young couple suffer a severe tragedy in which the wife loses the previous five years of her memory. That memory loss includes any recollection of the courtship with and marriage to her husband. The husband spends the rest of the movie trying to woo her and remind her of their relationship. It's basically the same plot as Chuck's series finale - without the geeky humor and spy vs spy action.

But what's different from that Nerd Herding TV show is that The Vow is loosely based on a try story.

The rest of this review is laden with plot spoilers - which I don't feel bad about as the preview itself is a two minute plot spoiler.

Rachel McAdams plays Paige, the free spirited Artist inflicted with amnesia. Not only has she forgotten everything about her husband and the love they shared, but she doesn't remember anything about her current work and her time in art school. When she emerges from a coma, the last thing she remembers is being a law student engaged to another man.

Her parents (Jessica Lange & Sam Neill) are manipulative and selfish. Her real husband, Leo (Channing Tatum) is heartbroken. And half of the movie is a war between the factions of husband and parents - neither like the other and both think they have Paige's best interests in mind.

The other half of the movie is spent watching Leo's displays of devotion - all of which are fruitless.

Your opinion of this movie will vary depending on your outlook on life. Bekah found the film to be hopelessly romantic and inspiring, but that could be because most women want someone to love them as deeply as Leo loved Paige. That's why stories like Twilight are successful. I thought The Vow was wholly depressing. That could be because his repeated failed attempts remind guys of how they've previously failed in our own love stories. In The Vow, Leo kept doing all the right things and none of it worked.

By the end of the movie Paige and Leo may be heading to a restaurant for a meal together, but they're divorced. Leo is still hurt from his loss and unrequited love, and Paige is trying out art school again while trying to rediscover herself. The happy ending is only provided in the afterword. I'm not bummed that Paige never regained her memory. That would be taking too much creative license over the true events. But I am disappointed that the romance was not reignited during the film.

I'm not saying this is a bad movie. It was just OK. McAdams and Tatum are both decent in their romantic roles (although I don't buy Tatum as a hipster professional musician and recording studio engineer). Sam Neill is at his best when he plays characters that we're not supposed to trust. And I appreciated some of the more intelligent music references like the story of Thom Yorke turned into a motivational speech - which in my opinion was the best scene in the movie. Second best part? Hearing Pictures of You by The Cure during the closing credits.

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