Inspired by a true story, The Vow is the tale of a love that refuses to be forgotten. Leo (Channing Tatum, Dear John ) is devastated when a car accident plunges his wife Paige (Rachel McAdams, The Notebook ) into a deep coma. She miraculously recovers – but the last five years of her memories have vanished. Suddenly, Leo finds himself married to a stranger who can’t remember anything about him. Naively, Paige falls back under the influence of her controlling parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) and reconnects with her ex-fiancé (Scott Speedman). Desperately, Leo tries to recreate the moments that shaped their romance. Can he rekindle the passion before he loses Paige forever?
Can true love really conquer all? That is the question hovering over the genuinely touching, affecting drama The Vow. Based on a true story (which itself might have made a great documentary), The Vow is a showcase for the splendid acting talent of Rachel McAdams and a breakthrough role for Channing Tatum, under the deft direction of Michael Sucsy (the feature version of Grey Gardens). The story is deceptively simple: Happy young married couple Paige (McAdams) and Leo (Tatum) are, well, happy. Then a car accident puts Paige into a life-threatening coma, and upon awakening, she finds she has lost the previous five years of memories--including of being married to, or ever in love with, her beloved Leo. With lesser actors or with a more heavy-handed director, The Vow might have been predictable, melodramatic, or flat--and yet, the talents of the two stars, and the crisp, light-handed direction, make The Vow an enjoyable, deeply affecting love story. McAdams is as winning as always, reminiscent of her early work in The Notebook, and here, as a brunette, channeling a young Jennifer Garner. But it's Tatum on whose shoulders The Vow must succeed, and he is a revelation. His persona as a tough guy's guy is perfect here, as a "softer" actor would have led The Vow straight into Lifetime Movie Network territory. The viewer relates to Leo, including his obvious frustration, discomfort, and even moments of terror. Sam Neill and Jessica Lange (who glowed in Sucsy's Grey Gardens) make memorable supporting appearances. But it's McAdams and especially Tatum who make The Vow the believable, delicate, and loving journey it is. --A.T. Hurley