The Vow (2012)

(On TV, March 2015) Do you want to weep?  Because The Vow really wants you to weep.  Adapted from real events, the film tells the story of a happily-married young couple challenged by the amnesia of the wife, who suddenly can’t remember anything in the past few years… including her entire relationship with her husband.  Cue the awkwardness, frustration, family drama, ex-boyfriend coming back and heartbreaking sequences.  The Vow may gleefully play with emotions, but it has the good fortune of being competently made, with very likable leads playing good-natured characters trying to work out an impossible situation.  Rachel McAdams has the most difficult role as a woman trying to rediscover herself from a nearly-blank slate, while Channing Tatum is a bit miscast as the husband fighting to regain his marriage.  (He is still, a bit unfortunately, too much associated with a lunk-head persona to be entirely credible as a sound engineer, but it’s interesting to compare his husband-focused role here with the one he had in Side Effects.)  There are a few fine observations about the nature of self along the way, along with a heartwarming portrait of a happy marriage shattered too soon.  (And a few not-so-subtle jokes, such as “Cafe Mnemonic”.)  The Vow is a successful film in that it manages to hit the objectives it strives for without veering too deeply into melodrama.  Does it mean that you want to see what this film wants you to see?  Well, that may be a crucial difference between romantic comedies and romantic dramas.

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