The fact that I saw The Vow (2012) on the big screen led many of my friends to wonder why. Upon hearing that I liked the movie there was an even more incredulous why. It seems that there are people out there who buy into the idea of the “chick flick” and the “guy flick” (with some of my friends being among that group). I am not one of those people. Sure, I have used these terms as a shortcut when describing a movie quickly, we all understand what they mean, but that doesn’t make the theory absolute. So, we are back to me enjoying a “chick flick.” Whatever you want to think, there is nothing wrong with enjoying romantic movies, it is just hard to find a good one.
The Vow is inspired by true events. Of course, this does not mean what you see is real, just that there is a basis in reality. The actual events can be warped and twisted in new directions for story telling effect, dramatic effect, or any number of other reasons. You could pretty much say any movie is inspired by true events. The initial inspiration came from somewhere real, regardless of the source. Kind of makes those words a bit meaningless, doesn’t it? In any case, many of the movies who do use the term do have their stories come from a verifiable story (and some don’t, like Fargo). This is a case where there is a very real story based on very real events, still, I suspect there was some dramatic manipulation at work.
Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams) are a happily married couple that have somehow managed to stretch the honeymoon phase to four years. Not terribly realistic, but it is a sweet ideal to see kept alive. Well, as fate would have it, the happy couple stop at a stop sign, in the midst of a snowstorm, where they are sharing a tender moment, only to be rear ended by a large truck. The impact thrusts them through the intersection and into a telephone poll where Paige is thrown through the windshield. It is a pretty visceral crash that is well realized on the screen.
In the hospital Leo wakes to find Paige in a medically induced coma to allow the swelling in her brain to subside. When she wakes up, she discovers she has lost the past four years of her memory. She does not remember Leo, their marriage, their life together, nor the fact that she is an artist. In her mind she still lives with her parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange), is a law student, and is engaged to Jeremy (Scott Speedman). Needless to say, this is not an easy situation for anyone.
Paige is not exactly sold on moving in with a guy she doesn’t know and Leo is none too pleased with the idea of her going home to her parents, who we come to learn had not been on speaking terms with their daughter, and possibly former fiancee. The movie follows them as Paige displays a lot of uncertainty about her place with Leo and fear of those missing years and Leo becomes increasingly frustrated with trying to help her remember, despite possessing Herculean patience.
The movie is rather predictable with the biggest question being whether or not Paige will regain her memory. Aside from that, the movie is all about the chemistry between Tatum and McAdams, which is surprisingly good. They feel mostly natural and believable in an unbelievable film. It is actually interesting seeing them navigate their new predicament. I cannot say everything is handled in the most elegant of fashions, but there is something about seeing the uncertainty on their faces as well as glimpses of love and others of indecision as they both try to find the right path for them.
Audio/Video. Presented in a ratio of 2.35:1, The Vow looks really quite good in this 1080p transfer. It is not a flashy action film, but it does show a high level of detail. Everything within the frame is nicely rendered. Everything has a nice realistic look, the colors are not exactly vibrant but everything has a very natural look. It is a transfer that looks beautiful without ever calling attention to itself.
The audio track is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Like the video it does a fine job while never calling attention to itself. This a dialogue driven movie so the surrounds are not going to get much of a workout, but the sound is nicely balanced and involving with crisp dialogue and clear score.
- Commentary. The track features director Michael Sucsy. It is not a bad track as he discusses the actual story and other inspirations as well as the shooting of the film. It is worth a listen.
- Deleted Scenes. Nothing really missed here, but there are a couple of interesting moments to be seen.
- Gag Reel. Typical collection of flubbed lines and moments.
- ‘Til Death do Us Part. A discussion of the story as well as other aspects of the production including the role of amnesia.
- Profiles of Love: Paige and Leo. A brief look at the main characters and the actors who play them.
- Trying to Remember. This is an interesting look at memory loss and the attempt to recover memories from a medical perspective as well as a thematic device.
Bottomline. I liked the movie. It is far from being a great romance, but it is tender has some humorous moments. It is sweet and sappy, predictable and silly, but I still enjoyed it. I liked the surprising chemistry between Tatum and McAdams. It is worth seeing. It is kind of like 50 First Dates, if that was told in a more serious fashion.