It’s difficult to criticise a film when its subject matter is so earnest, especially when we are informed that its events are inspired by a true story. However, despite the best efforts of both Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams The Vow ultimately fails to seduce its targeted viewer.
Paige (McAdams) and Leo (Tatum) live an idealistic, creative life, both pursuing their respective artistic endeavours: she is a talented sculptor, he owns a recording studio. Travelling home together one night, the loved-up pair’s lives are interrupted by a car accident. Leo emerges from the crash unscathed; Paige however, upon waking from an enforced coma to cope with the brain trauma she has sustained, recalls nothing of the past four years of her life.
Not only is she unable to remember her husband, but she is unable to equate herself with the person she has become: rapidly reverting back to the wealthy, driven law student she remembers herself to be. Leo, of course, remains faithful to Paige, believing that she can fall in love with him once again.
The narrative itself is hardly important, its outcome immediately apparent to all those familiar with the genre. Instead, it is the success of the central casting that so often proves itself crucial to such a film: the viewer needs to both invest and immerse themselves in the central romantic conceit, a feat impossible without the presence of tangible chemistry between the protagonists. As such, The Vow immediately fails; McAdams is, of course, as sunny and charming as ever, lighting up the screen. Tatum, unfortunately, is simply not romantic leading man material. Fine in physical roles, the not-exactly-demanding role of Leo causes him some problems – largely in his inability to truly emote.
The characterisation is largely simplistic: the lack of any real development makes it difficult to truly invest in their plight. The film itself is admirable at least: for the lack of any obvious manipulation, it clearly and quite sincerely believes in the pure message of love it attempts to deliver; despite this, The Vow fails to make an impression. Instantly forgettable, not even the delights of the talented McAdams can save this one.