Yesterday, I went to see “The Vow” a romantic comedy fitting for V- Day. Apparently, I was not the only one who thought so as the filmed grossed $11.6 million dollars breaking a box office record for a non-weekend Valentine’s Day! The story is about a woman who emerges from a coma after a car accident and doesn’t remember the man she married. The two must reconnect by falling in love all over again.
The Sony film has grossed $56.1 million nationally and $65.8 million worldwide since it opened February10th and it’s easy to see why.
While I was initially hesitant to see the film, fearing it would be a lackluster The Notebook:Part II or While You Were Sleeping: The Remake, it quickly won me over. Yes, I’m a chick. Yes, it was Valentine’s Day. Yes, Rachel McAdams is my girl crush of female leading ladies (tied only with Kate Winslet).Yes, I had two martinis with my gal pals before seeing the film! But still, I had reservations going in.
I wasn’t sure if I would like Channing Tatum who still easily brings the film Step Up to my mind, his breakout albeit cheesy role, despite having seen him in better films like Stop-loss or the similar romantic fare Dear John. However, I was equally impressed with him as I was with McAdams in The Vow.
The movie opens with a few scenes establishing the smitten relationship between married couple Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum). But quickly, we are in the thick of it- a snowstorm that is. The couple’s date ends abruptly when a snow plow rear-ends their car sending Paige through the windshield and leaving her in a coma. While she recovers, Director Michael Sucsy takes the viewer back in time four years to the first moment that Paige and Leo’s eyes meet. We follow them through the highlights of their relationship including the ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ wedding where the couple is married by friends at the Art Institute which sculptor Rachel attends, and the two read vows written on menus from the cafe where Rachel works.
The film focuses on a centrail theme- the moment of impact. Which in this case is the car crash that starts the film, but in all cases is a moment in your life that changes your life forever. The film asks to the viewer to imagine what it would be like if you one day woke up at couldn’t remember any of these moments. Sure it might be nice to forget some of the lower points in your life, moments where you screwed up or did something you regret, but what if all the good things were lost too? What if the decisions that formed your life and made you who you are were lost?
For Paige, she awakens to find that she has lost all memories of the last five years of her life but can easily recall everything before that. In fact, she has no trouble remembering her parents and sister, despite having not spoken to them in years, her high school friends who she long lost touch with, her career as a lawyer which she abandoned for art, or her first fiance Jeremy (Scott Speedman) who she practically left at the altar- all before meeting Leo.
Her apartment in Chicago, her sculpting studio, her true friends, and the wedding ring on her finger all are foreign to her. That said, the story is as much Leo’s story as it is Paige’s. As hard as Paige struggles to remember the life she built for herself, Leo struggles equally in watching the woman he loves remember everything but the love they shared. He vows to win her back by making her fall for him all over again.
I won’t spoil the film, which is based on a true story, by telling you if Paige ever regains her memory or the two end up happily ever after. But the path to this end isn’t as predictable as you would expect.
I will say that McAdams shines as both a sensitive and vulnerable woman while being charming and quite comedic. Tatum quickly wins you over as the devoted husband and really makes you feel his character’s frustrations and fears. Sam Neill and Jessica Lange stand out as Paige’s parents who use her tragedy as a chance to win back the daughter they lost, and Scott Speedman is the picture of a scorned lover hoping to capitalize on the possibility of a second chance.
The film reminds us to cherish the moments we have and to stand by the choices that define us. It also poses the question: Can two people rekindle a spark and find love again once it is lost? A theme that applies to many relationships, car crash and amnesia aside.
For me, it was a reminder that sometimes you need to find yourself again before you can expect to love or be loved. And sometimes, moving forward doesn’t mean recapturing the past, just creating new memories.