One snowy night, a young Chicago couple exit the Music Box. On the drive home, Paige (Rachel McAdams, “Midnight In Paris”) wants to test the theory that making love in your car guarantees getting pregnant. On Roscoe, a Streets & Sanitation truck rear-ends them. Paige goes through the windshield in extreme slow motion. When she emerges from her coma, intracranial cerebral hemorrhaging has erased five years of memory. “Who’s president?” she asks. Her ever meeting and marrying Leo (Channing Tatum, “Haywire”) is hearsay for this one-time Northwestern University law student from Lake Forest. From that cruel beginning, for the rest of the sweet weepy “The Vow,” the devoted Leo will try to win her back. If they cannot resume their earlier life together, this recording-studio owner will hit replay. Will Paige fall in love with Leo all over again? Nothing here, not the least an “Inspired by True Events” claim and a Valentine’s Day release, points to an unhappy ending. Screenwriters Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, the team behind “Valentine’s Day” and “He’s Just Not That Into You,” indulge in cute touches like locating key plot points in “Café Mnemonic” and enrolling amnesiac Paige in an intellectual property class. More notable is the idea that Paige may make the same life-altering decisions for a second time: distancing herself from her parents, dumping a fiancé, quitting law school and going to the School of the Art Institute. Her therapy included watching video of wedding Leo in an Art Institute gallery where the title vows were read from a Café Mnemonic menu. Director Michael Sucsy (HBO’s “Grey Gardens”) could have made more of that to muse on fate, instead making a competent chocolates-and-roses accessory with nice local color. With Sam Neill, Scott Speedman, Jessica Lange, Jessica McNamee. 104m. (Bill Stamets)
“The Vow” is now playing.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.