DIR: Michael Sucsy • WRI: Jason Katims, Abby Kohn • PRO: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Paul Taublieb • DOP: Rogier Stoffers • ED: Melissa Kent, Nancy Richardson • DES: Kalina Ivanov • Cast: Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Sam Neill, Jessica Lange
The interestingly-named Michael Sucsy’s new romantic drama The Vow is best encapsulated by not so much a single word as a single sound, and that sound is ‘eeuuchh..’. Released to coincide with Valentine’s Day and designed in every aspect to ensnare as many hormonally-charged teenage couples as possible, this is a Hallmark card of a movie, pre-packaged and sanitised to within an inch of its life. The Vow is loosely based on a true story, and concerns young artist Paige (Rachel McAdams), married to recording studio owner Leo (Channing Tatum), who survives a near-fatal car accident only to be left with no recollection of her husband or their marriage. Leo subsequently sets about re-staging the key events of their courtship as he tries to make Paige fall in love with him a second time.
Now I realise that as a mildly grizzled thirty-something male I am probably not the ideal audience for this type of froth, but it seems to me that the least that even the most easily-pleased of audiences should expect is a script that manages to rise above the level of something churned out over a wet weekend by a gaggle of lovestruck 12 year-old girls. There are lines of dialogue in The Vow so hideously clunky that you can practically feel your seat buckle beneath you. The performances are similarly insipid, Rachel McAdams (apparently the go-to actress for those dealing in this type of slush) sleepwalks through an unchallenging role, vainly trying to establish a connection with love interest Channing Tatum. To be fair to McAdams though, this is in large part due to the fact that Tatum, who seems to be some class of talking bicep, is impossible to take seriously in any kind of dramatic role. He’s even harder to buy here as a cool and charming music producer, being possessed of all the charisma of a filing cabinet. His primary task in The Vow seems to be to proudly exhibit his chiseled linebacker physique and predilection for chunky knitwear at every available opportunity, while failing utterly to convince as a love interest to McAdams’ free-spirited artist / sculptor. The idea that anyone would fall in love with this mug not once, but twice, is risible. In terms of the rest of the cast, Sam Neill and Jessica Lange have the good grace to look mildly embarrassed to be involved, with Lange in particular looking suspiciously as if she’s ingested a small wheelbarrow full of Xanax just to get through the experience.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of romantic mush at this time of year, the least one should expect is a modicum of playfulness and wit. The Vow is devoid of these qualities, and plays out its awkward, sickly-sweet melodrama over a soulless, charmless 104 minutes. In fact, I’ve seen Health and Safety instructional videos that inspire more romantic ardour than this foul potpourri of cynical sentiment and putrid cliche. I repeat, eeuuuch….
Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
The Vow is released on 10th February 2012