Rediscovering the Love Story in ‘The Vow’

In Columbia Pictures' new, poignant romantic drama “The Vow,” Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) are a young married couple, madly in love and living fulfilling lives as artists in Chicago.

One snowy night, the two fall victim to a car accident. Leo survives intact, but a head trauma erases Paige’s entire memory of her relationship with her husband. When she comes out of her coma, Leo is a stranger to her.

Suddenly Leo finds himself in the painful position of rebooting the relationship he’s waited his whole life for, and win his wife’s love all over again. Paige has reverted mentally to the young law student she was five years earlier, before she met Leo and became an artist. In seemingly an instant, she is no longer the wife Leo knew, and on top of that, she no longer recognizes her current life. She can’t fathom why she is estranged from her parents (Jessica Lange and Sam Neill), misses her more conservative wardrobe, and doesn’t understand why she would have dropped out of university and a promising career in law. Making matters worse, Paige thinks she’s still engaged to charming businessman Jeremy (Scott Speedman), who still wants her, and remains reluctant to embrace Leo, with his less conventional lifestyle making music, as anyone she might have ever loved.

When Paige’s memory recovery appears to be a hopeless cause, Leo begins to confront his worst fear—that he’s lost the love of his life and his only family. Refusing to give up, he decides to start fresh and court Paige as if they’ve just met, with the hope that since they fell in love once, they can do it again. It’s a challenge that will test everything he’s ever believed about love, about being true to oneself, and about that sacred part of every marriage ceremony: the vow two people make to each other.

“The Vow” is directed by Michael Sucsy (HBO’s “Grey Gardens”) from a screenplay by Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein and Jason Katims, story by Stuart Sender.

Everybody loves a good romance, but hasn’t every love story been told by this point in the history of cinema?

Spyglass Entertainment Co-Chairman Roger Birnbaum admits he’d grappled with this question for years. Then a news story crossed his desk: “I read an article about a couple who’d been in a car accident and the woman never recovered her memories of the man she loved.” Immediately, the unusual nature of the story spoke to him.

What happened to New Mexico residents Kim Carpenter and his wife Krickitt — an initially tragic but ultimately uplifting saga of a man and woman who found each other again after a seemingly insurmountable obstacle – touched many lives when it was first reported. The Carpenters would eventually publish a book about their experience in 2000.

Spyglass producer Jonathan Glickman describes what interested them in the Carpenters’ story. “We got excited by the idea of telling a story of a relationship that was inspired by true events that had not yet been seen, but was also relatable to anyone because of the universal themes about the need to adapt to change for any relationship to last.”

Krickitt Carpenter, who has been happily married to Kim now for 18 years even though the period of memory she lost never returned, boils down what happened to them this way: “My husband is amazing. He did everything he could to win me back. Life is full of ups and downs and challenges, but you have to dig down and be the best that you can be.”

Honoring the emotional reality of such an extraordinary incident required coming up with an original story that had the right balance, explains Glickman, “Because the story is so emotional and gripping, we didn’t want to make it a melodrama, but something that could elevate itself to one of those classic love stories like `The Way We Were’ or `Love Story.’ The script needed to be accessible, with humor and a light touch throughout, so that we don’t take ourselves so seriously.”

“I just thought it sounded like an incredible premise for a film,” says director Michael Sucsy. “The fact that two people are already in love when the movie starts, and then they’re ripped apart, and then they have to find a way back to each other, that really touched me. The thing that hit me the most was the fact that this could happen to anybody at any time. A lot of time when we deal with memory loss, it’s about Alzheimer’s and growing old, but I thought this was a really universal way of being able to relate to the problem.”

Opening across the Philippines in February, “The Vow” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Watch the trailer of “The Vow” here:

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