“The Vow”
It’s based on a true story, though some of the plot holes seem to challenge veracity. Maybe they couldn’t make this up.
Paige (Rachel McAdams) is a sculptor living in downtown Chicago with her boyfriend, Leo (Channing Tatum) who owns a small recording studio. They know lots of other artist-types, and their Bohemian lifestyle is perfectly portrayed in a quick wedding ceremony at the art museum, where they were run out of the exhibition hall by security guards, laughing all the way. Personal vows recorded on the menu of a favorite restaurant. Presided over by a guy in a big mad hatter’s top hat, like something out of “ Alice in Wonderland.” They’re obviously having fun, but life is like…a big lark. Until suddenly it isn’t.
One snowy, icy night, they’re driving home together, and Paige decides that she wants to make a baby. And she’d heard that pregnancy is more likely in a car, and since they were at a stop sign, well, there’s no time like the present, right? So she unfastens her seat belt in preparation for a very spontaneous maneuver when suddenly a truck that slides on the ice bashes them from behind, and Paige is thrown through the windshield.
Leo, who hadn’t yet unhooked his seat belt, is not hurt nearly as badly. And he recovers quickly. But the doctor tells him that they’ve induced a coma for Paige, in order for her brain to gradually recover from its trauma, and for the swelling to go down. And finally, when she wakes up…….she doesn’t recognize him.
In fact, she doesn’t remember anything about her recent past at all. She only recalls her more distant past, living with Mom and Dad, and going to law school. So she calls her parents and asks them to pick her up from the hospital and take her home.
Leo, of course, is distraught about this. He tries to tell her that she hadn’t spoken to her parents in five years, and that her estrangement was before he met her, and also that ill-fated engagement she’d broken off to Jeremy, who also suddenly re-appears on the scene. To make matters worse, it turns out that Paige’s parents (played by Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) are quite wealthy, and are all to eager to swoop her back into their cocoon of country club galas and law school re-admissions (because the President is a fellow classmate, you know), and they pointedly inform Leo that he can just disappear and that would be just fine with them. Oh, and if you’d quietly file for a divorce that would be even better.
Leo tries valiantly to re-insert himself into Paige’s life, but apparently whatever it was that attracted her to him is no longer apparent to her. She doesn’t want to live something she doesn’t feel. She tries, kind of half-heartedly, to see if there’s any spark of interest or glimmer of recognition, but there just isn’t. So she informs Leo that she’s moving back home, and would he please just go away?
He’s devastated, of course, but sees little choice. His business, long neglected, is in danger of folding altogether if he doesn’t pay some attention to it. His friends are equally bewildered, because she doesn’t seem to remember any of them, either. So everybody just goes their separate ways, waiting for something dramatic to happen.
Will our star-crossed lovers find a way to return to one another, this time with feeling? Well, you’ll have to see for yourself. But “The Vow” spends a lot of time in relational sputtering and not so much in easy afterglow. And you may have to decide for yourself if happily is ever after.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Interim Pastor, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas