The Vow review

An affair to half-remember.

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As far as hackneyed soap opera tropes go, the old “selective amnesia” chestnut takes some beating – boy meets girl, girl forgets boy, boy tries to jog girl’s memory – and the basedon- real-events tag can’t negate the schmaltz factor at the core of Michael Sucsy’s debut.

“Are you trying to make me diabetic?” Rachel McAdams asks Channing Tatum after a chocolate-heavy date, and well she might – this is a couple whose relationship places them at risk of saccharine-induced coma. He writes her messages on pancakes with blueberries. You get the idea.

It’s almost a relief when a car crash leaves her with a head injury and no memory of Tatum or his blueberries.

But as plot machinations would have it, the years she’s forgotten don’t just involve meeting Tatum, but a transformation that saw her ditch law school in favour of a free-spirited life in the city – a scientifically dubious premise that nonetheless makes for surprisingly effective conflict.

Much of the appeal is down to McAdams, on such charming form that it’s just plain enjoyable to watch her, despite the broad strokes her internal struggle is painted in – she used to be conservative like her cartoonish family, but now she’s so arty and passionate she (gasp) doesn’t even straighten her hair.

This is one of those movie worlds in which rejecting a bourgeois existence means living in a vast Chicago apartment with its own art studio, where you spend all day faffing about with collages.

But the filmmakers do resist the temptation of a sweeping reunion or climactic “a-ha!” moment, and it’s in the understated ending that reality makes itself felt.

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Emma Didbin is a writer and journalist who has contributed to GamesRadar+, The New York Times, Elle, Esquire, The Hollywood Reporter, Vulture, and more. Emma can currently be found in Los Angeles where she is pursuing a career in TV writing. Emma has also penned two novels, and somehow finds the time to write scripts for Parcast – the Spotify-owned network that creates thrilling true crime and mystery podcasts.