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Film Review: The Vow

03/09/2012 12:41PM ● Published by Justin Buettner

Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams) are involved in a car accident in an ice storm. The trauma to Paige’s head causes an amnesia which erases all of her memories from the past five years which includes any recollection of her husband. To complicate things more, the last thing she can recall is her engagement to another man (who happens to be still in love with her), and she can’t recall the events that led her to disown her family whom are quick to take advantage of having her back in their lives. Leo is now faced with attempting to win her heart again.

Romance movies are perhaps the most difficult movies to get right. This can be attributed to a number of reasons. The most obvious to me is that a film is only on average two hours and real relationships take years to develop and cultivate to a meaningful stage. It’s no wonder that TV romances just work much better as they have several seasons to add depth to a romance. It took Ross and Rachel and Jim and Pam three seasons or more before they actually became couples and by the time they did there was a history that the audience was able to experience. The Vow falls prey to the forces of limited time to properly develop a relationship. Much of the relationship in the movie never feels real to me, and since there is little else to fall back on story wise,  the movie never works.

Most films offer romance as a subplot which enables a movie to be about more than just a romance. This typically works best in movies as it gives a better driving force behind a two hour story and the romance aspect never feels as forced.  Curiously The Vow had plenty of opportunities to develop a few subplots to help give the movie more tension and drama, but they never take advantage of them. Because the subplots don’t get developed the supporting characters in the film, like the couple’s friends, are woefully underdeveloped and really have no place in the movie. Worse is the handling of Paige’s family who come across with as much personality as cardboard cutouts. With a bit more finesse and a little more focus in the screenwriting stage the family could have been a great story angle in this film. As it is, the family subplot is so underdeveloped that when the big reveal happens near the end of the story it has so little impact (and makes Paige’s reactions to the said event make so little sense) that it comes across as laughable.

There are moments in the film that work. McAdams and Tatum, do have a chemistry that works at times. The best moment comes in a restaurant where McAdams speaks and a piece of food falls from her mouth. I am inclined to think that this moment was unscripted, but the actors reaction and interaction during this moment works wonderfully. It is a shame that there were not more like it in the movie. I also love the premise of The Vow as well. In the right writer’s hands I could see this concept really becoming a great movie. After all one of my all-time favorite romance movie, The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, also tells it story from a memory loss angle.

For those who are suckers for bad romance movies you will enjoy The Vow. There are enough romantic nods for a date movie, and women will swoon over Leo’s pure love and devotion to Paige. Unfortunately though, there are enough holes in this story that it will prevent it from becoming an instant favorite like The Notebook, and it lacks the action and drama that seems to draw girls to The Twilight series. If you are desperate for a date movie you certainly could do worse.

Films like The Vow: 50 First Dates, The Notebook and P.S. I Love You


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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