Can true love really conquer all? That is the question hovering over the genuinely touching, affecting drama The Vow. The story is deceptively simple: Happy young married couple Paige (McAdams) and Leo (Tatum) are, well, happy. Then a car accident puts Paige into a life-threatening coma, and upon awakening, she finds she has lost the previous five years of memories–including of being married to, or ever in love with, her beloved Leo. With lesser actors or with a more heavy-handed director, The Vow might have been predictable, melodramatic, or flat–and yet, the talents of the two stars, and the crisp, light-handed direction, make The Vow an enjoyable, deeply affecting love story.
McAdams is as winning as always, reminiscent of her early work in The Notebook, and here, as a brunette, channeling a young Jennifer Garner. But it’s Tatum on whose shoulders The Vow must succeed, and he is a revelation. His persona as a tough guy’s guy is perfect here, as a “softer” actor would have led The Vow straight into Lifetime Movie Network territory. The viewer relates to Leo, including his obvious frustration, discomfort, and even moments of terror.