"Based on a true story"- those words can always leave a doubt in your mind and sometimes a sour taste in your mouth afterwards when events unfold that feel like only a Hollywood hack could have delivered them rather than fate itself.
With more a loosely stylised premise than an actual based on biography, this tale sets about deliberately pulling at the heart strings rather than hiding behind facts to dictate how the audience should feel. New to cinema director, Sucsy, lucks out on his first foray into the silver screen with the near-perfect pairing of McAdams and Tatum. Even when the cheese is being poured on thickly, whichever one is up on the screen responsible for the pouring, makes it that more enjoyable and easier to swallow.
Admitedly, most of the heart string-pulling is from Tatum's character as the loved-up husband who loses his love rather than McAdams who has the thankless role of the memory-loss wife who can't remember ever meeting him let alone falling for him and marrying him. Not many actresses can pull off the more negative female role in a romance-based film, but McAdams, along with Deschanel in (500) Days Of Summer, is able to pull it off somehow. As she gravitates towards her former fiancé which is her last memory, you should be hating her as Tatum's loved-up husband is left on the sidelines but her confusion and longing to hold onto any memory of herself helps you to feel sorry for her rather than anger towards her actions.
Like most romance-based films, any character other than the lovers are secondary and thinly written. This wouldn't be so bad as they are normally unknowns but when you have the likes of Sam Neill and Jessica Lange as McAdams parents with a past, it becomes more glaringly obvious that some attention could have been directed their way. That or cast lesser actors in the roles.
For those who like their romances ever-lasting, against-the-odds, and filled with looks of longing, The Vow delivers only some of these categories to its audience. The time frame unexpectedly jumps forward towards the end and any loose ends are conveniently tied up by the "true love" ingredient thickly spread across the storyline but since the two leads are so good together, you can forgive them for it. But only just.
UK release date: 10.02.12