Imagine that one day you awake to find your spouse has transformed into another person. Gone is any love or feeling for you. It’s the first step on the road to divorce and happens to more than half of married couples in America.
In “The Vow,” it happens to a young loving couple after a violent car crash, except that wife, Paige (Rachel McAdams), wakes up with amnesia. She remembers a lot, but not her husband, Leo (Channing Tatum), and anything that took place after they met. Now, he has to make her fall in love with him all over again.
Cute romantic concept, right? Wrong.
Based on a true story, Paige never does recollect pre-accident Leo. In fact, she is still in love with her former fiancé, Jeremy (Scott Speedman), who she does remember. Also resurfacing in her memory banks are her rich snotty parents, Bill and Rita Thornton (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange), to whom Leo was never introduced. While Paige wrestles with the recall gap, life is hell for the husband, who suddenly is confronted with buried baggage from a wife who doesn’t love or recognize him.
Most of “The Vow” is as romantic as “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Yet, miraculously, Paige and Leo do re-fall-in-love. Not because she recalls the old Leo, but due to a revival of a revelation about her father’s awfulness.
The message is that bad parents can send you back into the arms of anyone, who’s honest and loving…even if you forgot you were once married to that person. Coincidentally, McAdams has been through this before. She was in a movie called, “The Notebook,” where her character aged into Gena Rowlands with Alzheimer’s disease, condemned to keep re-falling-in-love with the James Garner-Ryan Gosling character. The mind may be a terrible thing to lose but, at least, love can be rejuvenated.