Movie Review: The Vow Lacks Chemistry

There’s a strange subversion at the heart of The Vow, but the movie probably doesn’t even realize it. This latest contender in the Valentine’s Day tearjerker sweepstakes — about a man who has to woo his wife all over again after she gets amnesia in the wake of a horrific car crash — does have the by-now fairly standard formula: Romantic bliss tragically ruined by chance, with an assist from stuffed-shirt parents who just don’t understand, leading to lots of melancholy yearning. But something feels a little off, conceptually – and it’s not just the fact that Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore did a better variation on a similar theme in the comedy 50 First Dates.

The thing is, the real plot point here isn’t that adorable, North Side sculptor Paige (Rachel McAdams), the free-spirited artist wife of hipster music producer Leo (Channing Tatum) loses her memory; it’s that she essentially relapses to an earlier and (according to the movie, at least) lesser self. After her accident, Paige forgets all about Leo and begins to return to her former life as a law student and the wealthy socialite daughter of conservative, perpetually disapproving judge Sam Neill (whose reaction shots in the film surely merit some kind of drinking game, or at least a YouTube compilation). She even goes back to her über-corporate, super-douche ex-boyfriend (Scott Speedman) And guess what? She enjoys it! She loves hanging out with her shallow, rich friends, having colorful drinks, eating meat (she used to be a vegetarian), and reading James Patterson novels. This is not, in other words, a girl who was living a life she didn’t want. In the world of The Vow, identity is mutable, malleable, and all you need to revert back to a discarded self is to get rear-ended by a truck – shockingly anathema in a genre that usually traffics in woozy notions of true selves and true loves. Read More...


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