WRITTEN BY: Jason Katims, Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, Michael Sucsy
DIRECTED BY: Michael Sucsy
STARRING: Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Sam Neill, Jessica Lange
RATING: 3 stars
You know that saying, "Too many cooks spoil the broth"? Well, The Vow had too many writers working on its script and it certainly did spoil it. A romantic film like The Vow really shouldn't have too many people throwing ideas around because it convolutes a story that should be far more simplistic. It's not that The Vow was a bad film, it just tried too hard to force the romance. With two leads famous for their romantic dramas based on Nicholas Sparks novels - Rachel McAdams from the Notebook and Channing Tatum from Dear John - audiences would expect to see a similar standard in The Vow. Unfortunately, the film doesn't quite match that impressive standard.
Inspired by true events and told through a series of flashbacks, The Vow tells the story of Leo (Tatum) and Paige (McAdams), a young married couple who have been together for about five years. One night, the pair is in a car accident that puts Paige in a coma. When she wakes up, doctors realise Paige is suffering from severe memory loss. Paige believes she is still a law student rather than an artist and is still engaged to her ex-boyfriend who she hasn’t seen in years. She has also forgotten that she has been estranged from her family for years, and does not even recognise her husband at all. Leo tries desperately to make Paige remember their life together but soon realises she may never recover her memory, so he decides the only thing he can do is try to make her fall in love with him again.
It's a heartbreaking concept for a story and the fact that this extent of memory loss does happen every day makes this story particularly sad. However, the film doesn't quite hit the mark on an emotional level. There are also some funny scenes throughout the film but they aren't truly funny enough either, except for one scene when McAdams (I think unintentionally) spits a bit of chewed chocolate into her hair. If that was scripted, then it's brilliant. If it was a blooper, I'm glad director Michael Sucsy kept it in the final film.
Speaking of McAdams, she is a likeable actress but her character in The Vow was too much like her character in The Notebook. She's a rich girl with domineering parents who dreams of being an artist. It's all a little too familiar. However, her ability to communicate her character's confusion and frustration at losing five years of her life and not knowing the person she has become is fantastic. The fact that her character is aged in her 20's and has skipped over some formative years where she learned what she wanted from her life makes it all the more interesting and painful.
Unfortunately, the same acting brilliance cannot be said for Tatum. By his own admission, he's never been to acting school and learns on the job of every film he does. In romantic comedies and action films he can get away with not being the best actor. Unfortunately, in a film like The Vow he needed to deliver a stronger performance. He was too wooden and awkward. Maybe that was the way he interpreted his character but it just didn't work for me.
The Vow had so much potential and I was really looking forward to shedding a few tears at a bitter-sweet love story. Unfortunately, this film left much to be desired.