The romantic drama The Vow is not adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel though I doubt its producers would be offended if you’d assumed otherwise. In fact I suspect they’re banking on it. The film’s stars Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum are both recognized veterans of the Sparks subgenre – she gave us the indelible (for better or worse) Notebook while he starred in the somewhat less successful Dear John. Moreover its premise pitting love against the insidious after-effects of brain trauma may be inspired by a true story but its one-two punch of tragedy and sentiment is straight out of Sparks’ tear-jerking playbook.
It’s all there in The Vow’s opening montage which first introduces Leo (Tatum) and Paige (McAdams) two desperately smitten bohemian-artist types (she’s a sculptor; he’s a musician/studio owner) and then rudely separates them all in one slick heartbreaking sequence. There’s the meet-cute at the DMV the whirlwind courtship the quirky marriage proposal the kitschy guerrilla wedding (replete with vows scrawled on restaurant menus) and finally the brutal car accident glimpsed in agonizing slow-motion that leaves poor Paige in a coma.
When Paige awakens in the hospital Leo is aghast to discover his wife doesn’t recognize him. While her girl-next-door beauty emerged from the crash remarkably intact it seems her brain did not fare so well suffering injuries that effectively wiped out her memory of the preceding five years – a span comprising the entirety of her relationship with Leo. Her mind’s clock rewound a half-decade Paige assumes the identity of Paige from five years prior like a rebooted computer whose owner neglected to backup the hard drive in a timely manner.
It soon becomes achingly apparent that the Paige from five years prior was markedly different from the Paige we met in the opening credits: a superficial sorority girl on track for a law degree averse to city-dwelling partial to blueberry mojitos cowed by her domineering father (Sam Neill) and engaged to a corporate douche (Scott Speedman). Upon emerging from her slumber she finds the remnants from her old life all-too-eager to re-assimilate their lost lamb into the Bourgeois Borg even if she does have one of those icky tattoos.
In danger of losing the love of his life to her former one a heartbroken Leo resolves to win back Paige even if it means starting from scratch and wooing her all over again. Aligned against him are the grim realities of brain damage as well as Paige’s family and former fiancé whose cult-like efforts at re-education seem ever-creepier the more I contemplate them. (There are unintentional echoes of Total Recall in Paige’s arc which I suppose would make Leo her Kuato.)
Cultishness and Total Recall allusions notwithstanding The Vow flirts with a more unsettling notion one seemingly at odds with the romantic drama mission implying that what we know as love is simply the product of our memories tenuous and transient and not the profound transcendent bond that Hallmark promised.
Fear not: The Vow is by no means a dense metaphysical treatise. Director Michael Sucsy (Grey Gardens) and is far more concerned with heart-tugging than thought-provoking. To that end he steers admirably clear of grand epiphanies and other moments of high melodrama preferring instead to apportion the sap relatively evenly throughout the story. The strategy is less manipulative but also less impactful. The script from Abby Kohn Marc Silverstein and Jason Katims can’t maintain the energy of its opening act and apart from its brain damage twist is a tediously familiar romantic-drama slog. I found myself secretly rooting for some old-fashioned emotional overkill if only to alleviate the boredom.
The two leads for their part form a charming pair. McAdams is as endearing as ever working well within her comfort zone and equally likable Tatum bears his character’s anguish ably even if he’ll never be credible as a bohemian-artist type. Their easy appealing chemistry might be enough to satisfy the Sparks-philes but it’s not enough to sustain the film.
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Click here to watch our hard-hitting exclusive interview with The Vow stars Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum.
Here’s a fantastic idea: take dating advice from someone who married Tom Green. This should work out wonderfully.
Despite her dating history, Drew Barrymore is returning to the director’s seat for How To Be Single. Her directing debut, Whip It, was a decent movie and one of the better female centric films of the past decade. How To Be Single sounds like shit though. Following in the footsteps of Valentine’s Day and He’s Just Not That Into You, the film will follow, over the course of ten years, a group of New Yorkers as they navigate the dating world. Oh goody, another ensemble romantic comedy. It’s always so refreshing to see ten one-note characters in place of one really well-defined character that has normal human motivations. Why actually develop a character when you just tell an actor “you’re the greedy one?”
Anyway, HTBS is based off the novel of the same name by Liz Tuccillo. She has one other book credit to her name, and shocker, it is He’s Just Not That Into You. Barrymore produced that film as well and the writers, Marc Silverstein and Abby Kohn, are penning HTBS too. Oh Drew, I really do appreciate you directing this movie, but we still won’t forget you dated a drummer and the “I’m a Mac” guy. Nice try though.
Source: Hollywood Reporter
Drama is a hard sell these days. It often takes a big name, or in some cases more than one, to get people in the theaters to see a traditional romance picture or a cerebral narrative. Spyglass, the production company behind last year's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Star Trek and Invictus, understands this and has acted accordingly to get their wrenching romantic drama The Vow made.
The Hollywood Reporter scoops that Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams have committed to the film, bringing much needed star power to a movie that otherwise might never have gotten off the ground. They'll help director Michael Sucsy tell the real-life story of a newlywed New Mexico couple who end up in a car crash. The wife is put in a coma, where she is cared for by her devoted husband. When she comes to, without any memory of her husband or their marriage, the husband woos her and attempts to wins her heart again.
The trade notes that the project, written by Sucsy, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, has been in development for over a decade and at one point had Julia Roberts set to star. Today's audiences will more likely flock to see heartthrob Tatum and it-girl McAdams in the film than Roberts anyway, so everyone's a winner this time around.
Still, production won't begin until both actors finish up their current respective workloads: Midnight in Paris and Terrence Malick's upcoming romance film for McAdams and Cheaters for Tatum.