Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Movie Review: The Vow

The Vow, released in time for Valentine's Day, is definitely a tear-jerker, a romantic movie for couples and for singles alike, about staying faithful to a vow even in the most difficult situations. The movie directed by Michael Sucsy, is loosely based on the real life events which Kim and Krickitt Carpenter lived through. Ten weeks after they were married, the couple were in a car accident in New Mexico. When she woke up from a coma, Krickitt could not remember anything from the previous eighteen months. Her doctor suggested that they begin dating again and Krickitt says that since she loved him before she decided to take a second chance. The couple were remarried in 1996, three years after their first marriage. You can learn more about their story in this interview:

The Carpenter's story is about hope, perseverance and commitment, all three virtues the movie more than adequately captures. Leo(Channing Tatum) and Paige Thorton (Rachel McAdams) are a couple who have been together for five years. Deeply in love, they are supportive of one another and share a strong commitment. Leo owns a small recording studio and Paige is a sculptor who is working on a series of sculptures for the Chicago building. Out on a date one evening, the couple are involved in a serious accident that sees Paige in hospital with severe brain trauma. When she awakes, her last memory is of being engaged to her former boyfriend, Jeremy. Paige has lost five years of memories and no longer remembers nor loves Leo.

Like his real-life counterpart, Leo meant what he said in his vows, that he would love Paige forever and prophetically that they would always find a way back to one another. When Paige's parents attempt to persuade her to come home with them, Leo steps in and convinces Paige to return home to their apartment and their life together. But things don't work out as he hoped, and Leo finds himself trying to cope with the loss of the one person he loves more than anything - his wife Paige. Will they ever be able to find their way back to the love they once knew?

Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams have a wonderful onscreen chemistry that makes this movie work. There's a strong supporting cast of Sam Neill as Paige's father Bill, and Jessica Lange as her mother, Rita. The accident scene, done in slow motion but not gory, adds drama and horror to the situation of a couple, in love, enjoying an intimate moment before their lives are shattered. The movie also does a good job of providing viewers of a glimpse of what Rachel's life was like before she met Leo and why she cut her family out of her life.

While the real-life Carpenters are thrilled to see the movie made, they wish that it reflected more the role their Christian faith had in keeping their marriage together. It was their belief in God and in his grace to help a couple through trying times that saved their marriage. Having said that, it's very apparent that the studio wanted this to be a mainstream movie and there is little if anything Christian in this portrayal of the Carpenter's real life experience. In fact Leo and Paige's marriage is a bizarre ritual, occurring in an art gallery and comprising strange vows on the part of Paige.

What impressed me most about this movie is the message of love, forgiveness and fidelity it imparts to viewers. As Rachel's parents and Leo struggle over who wins Rachel's heart, we learn that she left her family over five years ago because of a betrayal of trust. When she relearns what this was and confronts her mother, her mother tells her that she made a promise years ago to Rachel's father and that she made a decision - to forgive him and to love him. "I chose to stay with him for all the things he's done right; not the one thing he's done wrong." says Rita. It's a message worth hearing and taking to heart. Rachel must not only make the decision to love and forgive her parents, but also she learns that mainly, love is almost always a decision.

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