What if you could no longer remember the last five years of your life? What if in those last five years you made some of the most dramatic decisions in your life—the decision to go to an art institute instead of go to law school; the decision to move away from home; to become a vegetarian; to meet new friends; and the most important decision, to get married. All those memories, life changes, and major decisions—completely wiped clean. This is exactly what happened to Paige, the main character in The Vow.
We meet Paige (Rachel McAdams), a young brunette in her twenties and her husband Leo (Channing Tatum), around the same age, coming out of a Chicago movie theater on a snowy night. The cute, young, and much-in-love couple get into their car to start home. Suddenly, a truck slams their car from behind, sending both to the hospital. Leo only has minor injuries, but Paige’s condition is more severe—the doctors have induced a coma. Paige thankfully wakes up a short time later, physically fine, but with no memories of the last five years of her life.
Leo is faced with a choice—take the easy way out and leave everything behind, or stay and fight this uphill battle to re-win his wife’s love.
Several cute flashbacks from Leo’s memories show how Leo and Paige met, started dating, and got married in an Illinois art museum (without permission). After several days at the hospital, Paige is unexpectedly moved to a VIP room by her estranged parents (played by Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) who are determined to re-direct her life on a different path.
Throughout most of the movie, Leo and Paige are frustrated, trying to figure out how to unlock Paige’s memories. After Paige moves back home to the things that she can remember, Leo decides that he must start over with his wife if he has any chance to win her back and honor his vow to her.
The film is loosely based on the true story of New Mexico couple Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, whose car accident in 1993 provided the inspiration for The Vow. However, in real life (and in their book), the Carpenters credit their strong Christian faith and obedience to God as the reason they renewed their vows. The faith aspect of the true story is, unfortunately, completely left out of the movie.
The Vow, directed by Michael Sucsy (Grey Gardens), is a cute romantic drama with passable acting. Rachel McAdams (The Notebook, Sherlock Holmes) plays the insecure role of Paige admirably, and her sweet personality shines—keeping her likeable even when her character does things the audience might not want her to do. Channing Tatum (Dear John, G.I. Joe) brought a surprising vulnerability to his role, along with his typical “tough guy” character. You’re hoping the whole movie that they’ll stay together. Sam Neill and Jessica Lange are cast perfectly in their roles of Paige’s uptight, wealthy parents.
The Vow is rated PG-13 for the accident scene, some bad language, partial nudity, and sexual content. There are a few scenes where Paige and Leo are seen in bed together (covered up, however). In another scene, they’re running into a lake with Paige in her bra and underwear.
A few scenes worth mentioning: Paige having to pull a piece of bacon out of her mouth when she finds out that she doesn’t eat meat; Leo and Paige eating fancy chocolates on their second “first” date and Paige comments, “Are you trying to make me diabetic or just fat?”; and a redeeming scene in an unexpected place between Paige’s parents.
A movie titled “The Vow” that’s been based on such strong Christian content could’ve focused on that—the vows of the main couple—and used that as the motivation to keep them together, rather than just ratcheting up the “feelings” for one another. That aside, The Vow is a great date night film, lightly scripted, and a good story.
For more details on The Vow, check out Christian Film Database.
To learn more about author April Kruger, visit Cross Shadow Productions