Wednesday, February 15, 2012

FILM REVIEW: Channing Tatum & Rachel McAdams' "The Vow"

I went to see this film under the misguided belief that it was written by Nicholas Sparks. You know, the guy who wrote that other sappy love story that Rachel McAdams starred in. It was an honest mistake. First off, it's about a man (Channing Tatum) who has to get his wife to fall in love with him again after a car accident wipes their relationship from her memories. Come on! That's so The Notebook. Plus, I mixed it up with the upcoming Zac Efron romance The Lucky One, which is also kind of about a guy who falls in love with a girl who doesn't know him as well as he knows her.

Regardless, I arrived with the full expectation of balling my eyes out during the classic climactic begging-to-be-loved scene, and nonjudgmentally accepting the unrealistic levels of romance vibrating between two people who allegedly can't breathe without each other. I checked all of my cynical American criticism at the ticket booth and entered the fairyland where this love can only exist. And somehow I ended up not liking it because it wasn't romantic enough. Go figure.

Rest assured there was plenty of kissing, flirting, sweet romantic gestures and moments. The writers—all four of them—really tried to emphasize how effortless their love was, showing you quirky instances of commitment, from Paige choosing to inhale Leo's fart to Leo pretending he understood her sculpture, and having Leo tell us parts of their love story that we didn't get to see. They showed you his fight for a love that seemed genuinely lost. And every time you thought there was no hope, he restored it. But the film didn't just endeavor to tell the story of how two people fell in love twice, but also how a young woman needed to go back—and resolve everything she ran away from before she met her true love—in order to move forward. And in putting as much emphasis on that secondary plot, they sacrificed the impact of the first.
Yes, it's more logical and responsible for her character to resolve her family issues before recommitting to a man again, but I didnt sign up for a family drama or a coming of age story. I signed up for a romance. SPOILER! I'm glad she fell in love with him again and that he got a second chance to be with her—especially since this is a true story—but I think the fact that she never remembers their love or all the memories and inside jokes they had takes the wind out of their love story's sails. He will always love her more than she loves him, because he got a 5-year head start. It just seems unfair to him—and a little to us. The audience hoped for a happy ending and they got one. But it was like someone offered us a billion dollars but in the end only gave us a millon—still a lot, just not as good.

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