Year Released: 2012
Directed by: Michael Sucsy
Starring: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams
(PG-13, 104 min.)
"And if love never lasts forever, tell me, what’s forever for?" Michael Martin Murphy
I’m beginning to identify with the great unwashed, those nameless moviegoers who ignore the critics and just follow their fancy. They may be on to something. They certainly saw a spark in The Vow that the sneering critics missed.
And that’s what I wanted to discover when I went to see this film about a husband who must make his wife fall in love all over again after she loses all memory of him following a car accident.
What some critics see as all too familiar – the plot line of someone suffering from amnesia – I think the audience senses as a classic movie meme. That meme certainly didn’t diminish critical acclaim for Memento, but of course, that was violent, edgy, and cynical, all ingredients that seem to please the modern palate of elite tastes.
Maybe that three-letter word in the title says it all. After all, the wedding vow must seem hopelessly outdated to these reviewers, who now anticipate Friends with Benefits being nudged out to make way for the next permutation of (un)marital bliss, the recently released gem, Friends with Kids, about a couple who…
…decide to have kids together and date other people. There are big laughs and unexpected emotional truths as this unconventional experiment leads everyone in the group to question the nature of friendship, family, and finally, true love.
Not that young Hollywood isn’t into love and tradition, in a kind of back door way, where the audience must be treated to inordinate amounts of crudity to finally re establish that perhaps true love might actually exist. But what a torturous route and a vulgar one to boot! Compare the titles alone: 2012’s The Vow versus 2007’s Knocked Up. No surprises that this week’s featured film gets a mere 28% positive Rotten Tomatoes rating, while Judd Apatow’s 2007 vehicle merits a 90% from smitten critics who praise it as “smutty and funny.”
Who knows, though? The hedonistic formula is getting a bit frayed by now, as witness the rather poor receptions for last summer’s No Strings Attached (49% / 55% critics and audiences respectively) and the recent Jennifer Aniston flop Wanderlust (59% / 56%).
Strangely enough, though, The Vow ($111 million in box office receipts) and the multiple Oscar winning The Artist ($34 million at last count), both critically and commercially skewed, do share something in common. They both capture the innocence from an earlier era, say the 30s or 40s, even though The Vow is based on a true story and takes place in contemporary Chicago. And while poor Paige (an always radiant Rachel McAdams) struggles to regain her five lost years in The Vow, with her frustrated husband Leo (Canning Tatum in full puppy dog mode) trying to cope as well, I also found myself struggling with a past memory.
Luckily for me, there is the Google. Random Harvest, that 1942 film starring legends from my parents’ time, Greer Garson and Ronald Coleman, was the grand daddy of all amnesia films, and it was an instant critical and commercial success with seven Oscar nominations. That final scene with an old key, a country cottage -- all flowers and white picket fence – still lurks in my head, a remnant of afternoon movie reruns on Chicago’s “Early Show.”
It seems a shame that critical and commercial success are so detached from each other today. It’s as if, to quote one critic, Hollywood screenwriters are writing for their pessimistic peers instead of the audience. The Academy Awards, from the slick ceremonies to the glittering gowns, has become an exercise in narcissism, all the glitterati smugly celebrating their magnificence.
Although this season’s winners were not the usual ode to decadence and pessimism we have come to expect in recent years. I wonder, though, how much another form of narcissism, the infatuation with filmmaking itself, celebrated in both Hugo and The Artist influenced the Academy judges.
The Vow, despite being clothed in the contemporary hipster loft life of urban Chicago, really represents the essence of the classic film that the Academy used to reward. One that focused on real people with ordinary lives, facing their struggles with courage and determination. There was conversation, not banter, drama rather than action, and love not just lust.
The Vow recalls that mood, even as its reach exceeds its grasp. An ode to love and commitment may not appeal to our hip critics, but it does to the movie going public. It’s about time Hollywood invested more time and talent in that direction.
A car accident has wiped away the last five years of Paige’s life, not just her marriage, but her transition from preppy law student to whimsical urban sculptor. With those recent memories gone, she quickly reverts to that earlier self, revealing her somewhat shallow and frivolous side.
This certainly isn’t the girl husband Leo remembers. His wife would get lost for hours in her clay. The current Paige is a suburban “sophisticate,” giggling with her old high school girlfriends and ordering the kind of drink that epitomizes this giddy past.
Her preference is a Blue Mojito, that minty concoction that comes from Cuba.
Leo, who probably would rather throw back a few cool ones, sneers at this choice, but we don’t need to. With garden mint just springing back to life, what better way to end a long day and usher in spring break?
In 2003, the first "blue mojito" in Cuba was concocted at Hotel Nacional. Two choices for a "blue" version of the famous Cuban mojito were possible. The orange flavored "Blue Curacao" or the violet flavored Creme de Violette (many years ago, Creme Yvette was the best choice for violet color and flavoring). Since blue is an un-natural color for an orange flavor, Creme de Violette was originally chosen but, due to the limited supplies of this French liquer, many people substitute Blue Curacao for the Creme de Violette.
- Fine grain sugar 1 teaspoon or sugarcane syrup
- Lime juice, freshly squeezed (2 ounces)
- 5 mint leaves and 1 stem of mint
- Club soda or sparkling water (2 ounces)
- Cuban White Rum (2 ounces) and Blue Curacao (1/4 ounce) or Creme de Violette (1/2 ounce)
In a tall cocktail glass, combine the lime juice, sugar and mint leaves, then use a muddler to crush the mint leaves and blend with the sugar and lime juice. Add white rum, crushed ice, and EITHER (not both) Blue Curacao or Creme de Violette, then stir. Add Club Soda and gently mix (otherwise there will be a lot of bubbles!). Add mint stem to glass for garnish.
Recipe Source: cybercuba.com