The Vow (2012)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

With the recent box office release of The Lucky One, critics praised it as “Dear John meets The Vow.” Having now seen all three, it is easy to draw comparisons with snapshot moments from both of those encompassed in this film but overall, The Vow is a beautiful, heartbreaking love story on its own time, told in its own charming way. For once, marriage is demonstrated as something to cherish not bash.

Life is full of moments. Moments of joy, moments of sadness – moments of impact… but what if in the blink of an eye, all those moments were erased? Until he met her for the first time, Leo Collins (Channing Tatum) didn’t know what he was missing from life. Carefree and going through the day-to-day routines of a struggling musician, Leo wasn’t one who even thought much beyond tomorrow, but all of that was before he clapped eyes on the woman who would become his future wife. Paige (Rachel McAdams) is a free-spirited artistic soul, who is swept off her feet by Leo. It's love at first sight for the pair who move in together and marry in an impromptu ceremony soon after. Paige’s family is wealthy but their hypocrisy and lies that drove her away – they have been estranged for five years. Life is the perfect fairy-tale – and Paige and Leo are living it to the fullest. Fate has different ideas when one snowy Chicago night, their small car is crushed by a snow truck…

How refreshing is it to come across a movie in which marriage is uplifted. Some may argue that ultimately where the couple ends up proves their vows meant nothing but I must respectfully disagree… but then, I am getting ahead of myself, so let’s start again. Releasing on Valentine’s Day of this year, The Vow put up some impressive numbers its opening week, giving the genre a better reputation. The story itself is beautiful, and while the acting comes across a bit stilted (sometimes), there is something hard to ignore in the pull of emotions and truth in its storytelling. Inspired by a real couple who's way back to each other was made possible through their relationship with Christ, naturally, this Hollywood film does not rely on Christianity to tell its story but that doesn’t make its impact less poignant.

Much as I like Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams, unfortunately, their connection wasn't always great as a couple. Still, there are a lot of cute moments between them (like their second “first” date and the ending). I had to look at the characters they portray with perspective because Paige no longer knew Leo. Everyone needs to "understand" this. For much of the film, he was merely a stranger to her, and so, it would have felt misplaced had she been starry-eyed. Leo, on the other hand is head over heels in love with his wife the entire time and Tatum expresses that well. He has a reputation of playing an all-American, “aw, shucks” kind of guy and he pulls that stunt again with this role, a persona I don’t mind because his regret at the realization that Paige cannot remember their life together “feels” very genuine. I loved Leo’s steadfast attitude toward his wife. Where some may be shouting at the television screen for him to walk away and start again, I empathized with his plight – despite her pushing him away at every single turn, he didn't. Some viewers may see his eventual choice as not selfless but one he was bullied into. I am of the former belief – I saw his decision as further affirmation that he only wanted what was best for Paige (try as he might, he couldn’t force his wife to love him again) while she comes to realize that love doesn’t have to entail an entire past but can be a choice.

The settings are all pretty (it takes place in Chicago). They're are a lot of night shots with the sky-scrapers all lit up and snowfall gently falling from the sky. The script is sappy in places and abnormally strong in others. It was nice to see Paige reconcile with her family and even once she remembers why she left in the first place, she is strong enough to forgive and want a fresh start. If you know the story on which this is based, it's important to realize that, though many altered and romanticized liberties are taken, the end result is the same. To me, the film demonstrates the power of love, in many forms, but in closing what the conclusion says to me is Leo and Paige will embark on creating amazing new adventures, building memories that will mean something to them again – they decide to move on with a new future. To not remain stuck in the past. They choose to honor a vow – unconventional or not.

(Rated PG13, there is one full backside shot of a nude man who them walks in on a woman still in her underwear. One scene shows a married couple lying in bed with a lot of bare leg, sheets covering them; there are a few references to a prior extra-marital affair. Profanity is infrequent but there are a few words [sh*t, etc.] and some crude remarks. Two scenes show a couple "making out." There is a tense accident scene; the impact sends a woman through the windshield of her car [no blood]. A couple goes for a swim in the lake in their underwear. There are one or two shouting matches and one man punches out another.)  


  1. Can I just say I really want to see that I really want to see this one :) It is such a sweet story. I wouldn't mind reading the actually story either. Thanks for the review! Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Because You Are!)
    Philippians 4:8

  2. You may. =)

    I am right there with you. I wanted to see this movie a looong time ago but didn't get to the theater to see it. Now, I am so glad to have watched it, and am already anticipating a 2nd viewing. =)

    I just read some of the book last night. It was good - so far, but then, I've only read a few pages. I've read ahead in the book and read a few other things so I know the "basics."

    Enjoy if/when you see this one, girl!

  3. Oh yay. Great review. I cant wait to see this, I rented it for tonight! :)))


  4. My mom and dad watched this at the movies. They were a little disappoinetd that they divorced, especially since the title is "the Vow".

  5. Jeanine - yay! Enjoy - I thought it was a really special film.

    Cannot wait to know your thoughts. =)

    Brooke - for me, I thought the point of the movie was Leo's devotion to his wife, and his ultimate decision was yet another confirmation of how much he loved her. He couldn't make her remember or love him back. This is just my personal opinion, of course, I am not trying to sway anyone's thoughts. =)

    I am sorry your parents didn't care for it - that is always a disappointment when a movie doesn't live up to its expectations. Believe me, I have experienced that, too.

    So glad you stopped in, Brooke! =)

  6. I'm very interested in checking this movie out! I was disappointed to find out that the movie-makers didn't incorporate the original couple's faith into the movie, but it still looks very sweet and I love any movie that celebrates the beauty of marriage. =)

    Are the moments you spoke of in the ratings information quick, or would they need to be skipped?

    Thanks for the great review, Rissi!

  7. Rissi-I think it was more because my mom and I had just watched October Baby the night before, and that is an amazing movie, so it might have made the movie seem not quite as good. Plus my mom had pretty high hopes.;] They did like it;it was just not a favorite. I would like to see it sometime. Thanks for reviewing it!

  8. AnnaKate - I don't think you are the only one who was disappointed in that. Coming from Hollywood I am not surprised at its omission but still... it'd have been a nice touch. =) Despite that, the film still managed to be "special" and it is one I'll be likely to watch several times over. Definitely turned out to be my kind of movie.

    Content: The full shot of nudity lasts no more than 15 seconds before we see him waist up again; then the bedroom shot is probably about the same. Hope that answers your questions...?

    Brooke - I know that feeling. Sometimes your expectations for a movie are sky-high and in that, there is sometimes disappointment because we expect so much.

    I hope you enjoy it if/when you see this one, Brooke! =)

  9. I loved this movie too. I know it's not a neat tidy story but it felt more real and authentic. I liked that. Allot actually.

  10. Yes, Rissi, thanks so much! I just wanted to know if it would be appropriate for my whole family, or if we'd have to wait till it was just my parents/mom and I. =) Sounds like it would be fine!

  11. Juju - excellent point! You are right; this did feel more "real." Loved that.

    I know it is one of my faves - I'll be re-watching it a lot. =)

    AnnaKate - hope you guys enjoy it! I did forget to mention: there are a couple of "make-out" scenes (both between married couples) and talk of getting to "second base" but nothing graphic. It is always hard to know what everyone's standards are because we all have different ones.

  12. oh gosh, i really want to see this movie! now if only the mister would see it with me!!!
    xo TJ

  13. That is always the challenge, isn't it, TJ!? LOL! I hope you enjoy - and that your husband watches it with you. =) This is one of the most charming contemporary romances in a while.

  14. hey rissi go check out my blog page, I have a surprise for you! haha

  15. WOW! Emily, thank you - my blog button! =) That was really kind of you to include my blog on your site, and I am appreciative.

    I knew there were some blogs whose buttons I needed to add to my "lovely scribblings" menu yet. ;D


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