Hollywood Actually Upholds Marriage Promises in "The Vow" Movie!
**WARNING: This Hub about the movie "The Vow" contains SPOILERS!!!!**
"The Vow" is a movie starring Rachel McAdams & Channing Tatum, as a young, newlywed couple. The main event happens early, within the first five minutes, when their car gets rear-ended and Rachel McAdams' character hits her head on the windshield and is ejected from the car. Her husband, Leo, has to fight with her controlling parents just to be able to take her back to their house and encourage her to get back into her normal routine of daily life with him, to help recover her memory, as per doctor's orders. Her parents want her to move back into their large, cold house, without Leo, so they can work on things "as a family", purposefully trying to eject Leo from her life. But Leo succeeds and takes her home with him, to their quaint apartment and quaint life.
Leo is inexhaustible in his efforts, trying everything he can think of to jog her memory and help her remember him. Some of his ideas are received favorably by her, but most are not. She (understandably) ends up screaming & crying at Leo quite often in the film, because she doesn't remember anything. She doesn't remember him. She does not remember their love. She does not love him. In fact, she had broken up with an old fiance before meeting & falling for Leo, so now with her memory from the last 5 years gone, she still has feelings for the old boyfriend. As if poor Leo needed any more obstacles in his way while trying to win back his wife!
Leo is portrayed as a young man passionately in love with his wife, but also well aware of the hardships of marriage, and well equipped to face the new obstacles looming in front of them, namely, his wife's lost memory. Leo desperately fights for his wife. He passionately upholds his vows to her, and works extremely hard to help her, protect her, honor her, and love her, even during these difficult times when she's frequently being un-loveable and distant. Leo does things like take her to her beloved art studio, showing her her in-progress projects she was working on, and playing her favorite, rowdy "artsy" music. He even has their friends greet her in a surprise "welcome home" party when she comes back home for the first time, which of course ends poorly because it was too much, too soon for her and she is quickly overwhelmed by these "friends" she feels nothing for and cannot remember ever knowing.
In the beginning of the film, when she wakes in the hospital after the accident, she has amnesia and has lost her memory from the last 5 years, including meeting & marrying her husband, Leo, played by Channing Tatum. Her estranged parents see this as a convenient opportunity to exact their pull upon their daughter's life and conspire throughout the movie to tear her, in her fragile state, away from Leo and back into their home. Her parents truly are characters you "love to hate" in this movie, since they constantly connive behind Leo's back to draw their daughter back into their lives. What the viewer finds out later in the film, however, is that there is a very good reason why she stopped speaking with her parents to begin with, and now that she has forgotten, they are purposefully hiding it from her, in hopes she never remembers and they can go back to the way they were before the incident. Of course, the big, bad secret is eventually revealed to her from another source, ensuing a tearful & angry confrontation.
But during this confrontation about her father's sexual indiscretion, she asks her mother how on earth she could've stayed with her father, and why didn't she just leave him? How could she sweep it under the rug like that?
I was impressed with the mother's forthright and wise answer. The mother describes how she did not sweep his mistake under the rug, but chose to forgive him and move on, for the sake of keeping the family intact. She elaborates to say that she chose to stay with her husband because of all the things he has done right, and not leave him for the one thing he did wrong. (Of course, that "one thing he did wrong" was a doozy, but still....) I applaud her (and the writers of the movie) for this answer. This is an astounding concept if you think about it, and it's the core of any stable marriage. That's what honoring your marriage vows looks like: forgiving your spouse for their few mistakes, and choosing to stay with them because of all the wonderful things they've done right. Wow! I can't believe a marriage-honoring statement like that actually came out of Hollywood! In most other movies, people separate or get divorced as soon as times get tough, or as soon as someone lies or cheats. And usually for much less severe infractions than that. But the mother's character in this film showed incredible foresight, compassion, and the ability to forgive and still see her flawed husband in a positive light. I have one beef with this film, however. Towards the end of the movie, his father-in-law finally convinces Leo to divorce his wife and let both of them regain their freedom. So he does. Leo, after all his hard work and dedication to helping his wife heal, Leo signs the divorce papers and lets her go. Now, granted, she was no longer living with him at this point and had long since moved back in with her parents, and had all but forgotten about him, but still. I felt like he should've refused to divorce her, that that would've been more in line with his character. But she was gone, seemingly never to return, so I guess I understand why he finally divorced her. So I felt that this was the only time in the entire movie when the sacred entity of marriage was not honored, but thrown away. But like I said, I suppose I can see why.
The movie ends about a year later, when she still has not gotten any memory back, but has moved out of her parents house (again) and into the city, finally regaining her skill & desire to return to her art. She is living alone, free from her parents' controlling grasp once more, and she runs into Leo walking down the street. He misses her terribly but is still, like throughout the whole movie, willing to gently guide her back into his arms if she's willing. They agree that there is some small spark still between them, and walk off, arm and arm, into the night.
So, except for when Leo finally decides to divorce his wife, I think this movie portrays the institute of marriage very positively, as something of highest value to fight for and protect, even (especially!) in the midst of trials and hardships. And this is beautifully displayed in the character of Leo. I pray that there are many more "Leos" in the world who understand the value of marriage and who will do anything to uphold their vows to their spouses or future spouses!
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