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Review - The Vow

08 Feb 2012
McAdams and Tatum make each other cry... it's not as good as The Notebook!
When married couple Paige (McAdams) and Leo (Tatum) find themselves in a car accident, they feel lucky to be alive, until it becomes clear that Paige has lost all memory of the man she has loved for the last five years. Leo must help his wife to fall in love with him again, while her shattered mind retreats back to her old life and habits, including an ex-fiancée and her estranged family.

The Vow arrives in cinemas just in time for Valentine’s Day and if it’s an openly calculated move, at least the film itself delivers more entertainment value than your average romantic drama.

First things first – this is not The Notebook 2.0. While McAdams’ presence can’t been seen as anything but an attempt to recall that highly successful example of the genre and Tatum has also appeared in a Nicolas Sparks adaptation (2010s Dear John), The Vow – despite its emotional back story – never really manages to capitalise on the heart rending details of the case. All the more strange given that this film is based, however loosely, on real events.

Even if it can’t match the charm and gravitas of The Notebook, The Vow is an amiable enough way to spend 104 minutes. There are certainly many attractive people to gaze at and, if you get behind the premise, tears should be forthcoming. McAdams plays somewhat straighter than usual, saddled with a role that requires her to be confused and angry for much of the picture. For fans of the actress, it’s not an ideal role but she does a decent job with some difficult material. And Tatum is just fine, filling our his costumes delightfully and making us feel sympathy in all the right places. He’s just no Ryan Gosling but then, who is. Ryan Gosling, that’s who!

Director Michael Sucsy has only previously helmed the well thought of TV mini-series Grey Gardens and he keeps things ticking over nicely here – with some help from cinematographer Rogier Stoffers, whose constantly moving camera makes The Vow more visually appealing than your average rom-dram.

Supporting players are pretty forgettable, particularly dim roles for Sam Neill and Jessica Lange, though it’s nice to see Scott Speedman on board as McAdams' PG nefarious ex-lover – even if he looks like he’s found the secret to eternal youth.

The Vow is just fine – featuring pretty people doing the ‘emotionally tortured’ thing without causing themselves too many premature wrinkles. The leads are enjoyable and, if you are so inclined, you’ll be able to wring a few tears from the heart string tugging narrative.

It ain’t The Notebook though!

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