The Power of Courtship in The Vow

The perfect Valentine’s Day date movie, The Vow has all the expected elements for a romantic drama.  Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) “meet cute,” get wet in the rain, share chocolates and giggles, fall in love and secretly get married in an art museum before they are chased away by security.  Here’s the twist:  This all happens in a flashback after a tragic car accident.

When Paige awakens from a coma in the hospital, the meeting is not so cute.  She has absolutely no recollection of marrying, or even meeting Leo.  She clings to her family, not remembering that she does not even speak to them in her “old” life, and is still attracted to Jeremy, her ex-fiance.

Leo is faced with the challenge of courting his own wife and faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles in trying to win back the woman who now views him as a stranger.

The Vow manages to avoid sinking into melodrama by incorporating humor in the right places and by making us really root for Paige and Leo.  In most movies of this genre, the audience is expected to just buy the fact that the couple is deeply in love, but The Vow gets it right by focusing on the couple’s relationship in the first act.  We get to actually watch Paige and Leo fall in love, and we want them to end up together again.

The casting also makes the movie work. As usual, Rachel McAdams lights up the screen with her luminous eyes and infectious smile.  She does an excellent job of depicting Paige’s confusion and how she is torn between the family she knows and the husband she doesn’t remember.

Channing Tatum, although at times a bit wooden, portrays Leo as a loving, sensitive husband who is truly devastated by his wife’s inability to connect with him.  We feel his pain and hope that he is able to win back the love of his life.

Although this film is rated PG-13, it’s more suited to adults and mature older teens.  The sexual situations and partial nudity that drive the rating are within the context of marriage.

The Vow is not a faith-based film, but it will resonate with Catholics, particularly those who are married. Marriages go through many phases, and couples are often put into situations where they must court each another again.

Catholic couples who make the leap from birth control to Natural Family Planning also experience changes in their marriage that involves a type of courtship as they adjust to the romantic phases of NFP.

In a similar way, couples who begin to pray together privately for the first time undergo a spiritual courtship that actually strengthens the romantic aspects of their mutual love.

Other life changes can involve new ways of courting each other such as the arrival of children or the adjusting to the “empty nest” when they leave.

Seeing The Vow as a couple might be a springboard for a discussion on courtship in your own marriage or romantic relationship, especially considering that the film is inspired by real-life events. Kim and Krickitt Carpenter wrote a book, also called The Vow, about how their faith kept them together when Krickitt lost all memory of meeting and marrying Kim after a car accident.

The Vow opens in theaters on Friday, February 10th.  The film is rated PG-13 for an accident scene, sexual content, partial nudity and some language.

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