I know all y'all are familiar with Richard Bach's much regurgitated adage, "If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it's yours; if it doesn't, it never was." Well, The Vow is a strong case for that platitude as it is based on the true life events of Krickitt and Kim Carpenter. And there's nothing an audience loves more than a triumphant romance derived from a real life story--unless it's non-stop footage of buildings blowing up and/or people beating the shit out of each other.
Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) are probably the most adorable a couple can get without being completely nauseating. The beginning of the movie finds them exiting a movie theater on a snowy winter night just before experiencing a car accident that changes both of their lives in drastic and incalculable ways. Parked at a stop sign, Paige takes off her seatbelt to kiss Leo and, in slow motion, a massive truck rear ends them, sending Paige's body flying out through the windshield.
As both of them lay unconscious in the hospital, the film flashes back to the start of Paige and Leo's relationship. Director Michael Sucsy (who was also responsible for 2009's scripted remake of the impeccable documentary, Grey Gardens) interweaves the past and the present with masterful precision, not to mention that, in doing so, he should be given an honorary acknowledgement by the Chicago Office of Tourism because the Second City never looked so appealing.
When Paige awakens, it is as though the past four years of her life have been stamped out, including the memory of her marriage to Leo. Unaware that she has been estranged from her parents for all that time (played by Sam Neill and Jessica Lange, who, as always, comes across as a little nuts), Paige is eager to let them take her in once she is ready to check out of the hospital. Leo, who has never met Paige's parents until now, convinces her that she would be better off staying with him so that she can more easily regain her memory by living in her normal surroundings.
Expecting that Paige will be easy to win over, Leo realizes that, since she still thinks she is engaged to her ex-boyfriend (Scott Speedman of Felicity fame), her heart is going to be much more difficult to lasso. He tries to be patient with her, but cannot seem to reconcile that she has no idea who he is--and doesn't really have any idea who she is anymore either. Her profession as a sculptor even evades her when Leo tries to inspire her to finish a project she received a grant for by the city. But, since she has no recollection of ever attending the Art Institute of Chicago, all of her knowledge on the subject appears to have vanished.
As she struggles to remember how the real Paige would have acted toward Leo, she is all too content to let her father make decisions for her as opposed to figuring things out for herself. Once Leo comes to accept that she isn't going to transform back into the girl who fell in love with him, Paige has the epiphany that he is the only one willing to accept her for who she is regardless of being disappointed. If that sounds a bit too corny for you, here's an additional fun fact about The Vow for the non-sentimentalist: There is also a 1946 movie of the same name that served as a propaganda film for Josef Stalin's regime.