Film review: The Vow

By Manal Sheikh

Like many works of romantic fiction inspired by a true story, Michael Sucsy’s The Vow is a strange mix of the expected generic love-drama formula, with a bit of gritty reality added in.

Starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams, two of Hollywood’s go-to romantic leads, the film follows a young married couple through the trauma of a car accident during which Paige (McAdams) loses her memory from the past five years. This is kicked up a notch when it’s discovered that she has no recollection of her husband, Leo (Tatum). Leo then makes the choice to make his wife fall in love with him all over again à la 50 First Dates. What follows is a classic tale of love combating all odds despite its perceived chance at success.

Tatum, recognized mainly for his strong-but-silent acting roles in Dear John and G.I. Joe as well as his good looks and charm, comes off just as we have seen him before. He is convincing for the most part as the besotted husband, deftly navigating the painful situation he finds himself in with an expected uncertainty.

There are a few exceptions to this that even his handsomeness cannot smooth over, however. At certain points in the movie, Tatum reverts to an emotionally flat façade, where we can almost see the gears turning in his mind as he tries to figure out the best expression for the scene. The result derails his character, the film equivalent to an awkward pause in conversation.

It is McAdams, the queen of problematic romance heroines (see: The Notebook, The Time Traveler’s Wife), who redeems the movie at these points. She approaches each scene with an endearing wariness and confusion that is entirely believable. Her film-industry reputation is once again justified, and her character meshes with Tatum’s to create authentic chemistry — this renders The Vow sweet and sappy in all the right ways.

Sucsy’s work is uplifting, heart-warming and a tearjerker, just what the entree for a typical Valentine’s date should be. Despite the expected treacle-tart flavour, overall The Vow is genuinely tender and plays all the right heartstrings.

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