'The Vow': What If You Forgot Why You Fell In Love?

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Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum in The Vow
In "The Vow," a woman loses all memories of her marriage after a car accident. Her husband doesn't.

In The Vow, Paige (Rachel Mcadams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) start out a happily married young couple. They're driving home from a concert on a snowy night in Chicago, kiss at a stoplight, and BAM! They're rear-ended by a truck. Paige flies out the windshield, and things get interesting. It took all of three minutes.

Some people are cynical about movies like The Vow. I should know — I'm usually one of them. These movies are all about terrible things happening to attractive people who are in love. But these terrible things aren't the typical relationship challenges. The plot never hinges on someone's not being over an ex-boyfriend, or some light of passion that slowly dims.

 

Instead, the conflict is brought about by fate — a truck on a snowy night or a stray bullet or a rare disease. Nicholas Sparks is probably writing a book right now with all three of these elements.

So these movies aren't totally believable. (Especially when Channing Tatum is cast as some sort of indie music kid, ahem.) Still, we're sucked in. Because we love to think "What if?" What if that happened in my relationship? What if we had real problems, like a traumatic brain injury, instead of our stupid fights?

In The Vow, Paige comes to with no recollection of the past five years of her life. Not only has she forgotten ever meeting Leo; she's no longer the person Leo fell in love with. Paige is shocked to learn that she dropped out of law school, became a vegetarian, and voted for Obama. It sounds silly, but think about it. Haven't you changed in the last five years?

Then Paige's estranged, upper-crust parents resurface. Leo's never met them, and Paige doesn't remember why. They want Paige to divorce Leo and move back home; Leo wants to win Paige back. Well, not back, but again.

We root for Leo, because who hasn't been in this position? Maybe the amnesia wasn't literal — maybe this movie is all a metaphor for what us normal people face in love — but we've all either forgotten why we fell in love, or been with someone who forgot why they fell in love with us. We get comfortable and take our relationships for granted. We get frustrated by the same person who only delighted us before. And we come to just before we lose someone permanently. At least, one person usually does.

There's no easy fix for Leo and Paige. (Yep, this is still a movie review.) It's a lot of work to lose something and get it back, or lose something and start from scratch. The Vow is all about this struggle, and you'll have to see it in theaters to find out what happens.

Have you ever tried to rebuild a relationship? Were you successful?