Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Vow (2012)

Yes, I saw The Vow. You know, sometimes I'm a sucker for romantic movies, but only when they're done well. But really, I saw this movie for two reasons: One, I wanted to review something new. I still feel like I'm play December catch up with a lot of the movies that are out, but I'd like to see what stuff is currently topping the box office and share my thoughts on that. Two, I love me some Rachel McAdams. She is some home grown Canadian talent that I can really support. The fact that she's easy on the eyes, so to speak, isn't even really all of it. She is just naturally charming and steals whatever scene she's in... most of the time anyway. I guess I was also mildly interested in The Vow's story as well. It's a loose retelling of a real couple's story where after a car accident Paige (Rachel McAdams) loses the memory of the last few years, including the memory of her husband Leo (Channing Tatum). He is still devoted to her and wants to win her love back, but the last thing she remembers is being engaged to her now ex-fiance Jeremy (Scott Speedman). Plus her family is stepping in to reconnect with her after a falling out that they had that she can't remember and they're being decidedly silent about. And none of these parties really want to give Leo, the outsider, his chance.

It actually isn't a bad idea for a romantic movie. It's an unusual obstacle that a couple would face and lends itself well to uncertainty and tension, which is what a movie should have. Also, you can see why a studio would back such a story because there is a market for these kinds of movies, particularly after the success of The Notebook in 2004, which also starred McAdams interestingly enough. I don't imagine that's a coincidence. Plus, they released the movie out just before Valentines Day so of course, it was a hit.

But was it actually good? Well, if you talk to its target audience, which of course is primarily women, the answer is yes. I'll say this, it knows its market and it gives them the product they desire. Me? Well, I've seen worse. It seems to be made well enough and the performances are pretty good; even Channing Tatum isn't that bad. I just didn't really feel like the movie was emotionally eventful as the story demanded out of it. Perhaps they felt that it would be too risky to let the film be uncomfortable? But the situation is uncomfortable! She doesn't know who her husband is and she has to rediscover her life. That should be heartbreaking and we only get glimpses of that struggle. It's not the actors fault, the script didn't demand it.

My issue is that everyone is just too well intentioned, so much so that I never really had a doubt of how it was going to turn out. The characters talk about how the problem is such a big deal, but I rarely felt like it really was. I know that maybe it wouldn't have been as marketable, but it probably should have been a little more gritty. As it is, everyone is just trying their best to be understanding and forgiving and it just doesn't seem very real. Relationships under the best of circumstances are complex and difficult and often people say and do things that really hurt the other person. All in all, Leo and Paige are pretty squeaky clean. They're cute, but they're not people. The exception is a surprisingly slimy Sam Neil who plays Paige's father. And even then, I don't think that they used the character and the talented actor behind him to their fullest.

McAdams works well and is probably underused. She gets a few moments to really act, but for the most part she just seems to coast through the movie, but that's not really her fault. She does the best she can with a script and direction that allow her to be confused or surprised, but never as overwhelmed as I imagine she should have been. I think I preferred her nastier turn that she took in Midnight In Paris last year. That was a good opportunity for her to do something different because we already knew that she had 'likeable' all figured out. Channing Tatum is not amazing, though I don't necessarily dislike him as an actor. He's easy to pick on because he's very pretty and a lot of female movie goers seem to appreciate him solely for this. I do know that he can act well when he is given the right material. He does a good enough job in this movie, but you can tell that he was selected for the role primarily to be the eye candy for the ladies in the audience.

I don't think that The Vow is a horrible film, as I said, but it could have been a lot more than it is. On the upside though, they play The Cure's “Pictures of You” in the end credits so that puts it a little higher in my books. I imagine that the actual story between the real life couple is more interesting than this movie. It says on the poster that it is “inspired by true events” which could mean anything. I would doubt it if the real situation looked like anything you see on screen. After all, real life is a lot more dirty than this movie lets itself get.

2 Stars

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