VOD Spotlight: Forgotten promises at the heart of “The Vow”

“Till death do us part.”

Just about everyone knows these words and their significance. They’re a public sign of commitment to a life together. Many couples who say them don’t make it to the “till death” part. Sometimes life has a way of forcing people to grow apart. And sometimes it intervenes in other ways. The Vow, starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, tells the story of a couple separated, in a sense, by an accident — and how they managed to find their way back to each other.

Based on the true story about — and subsequent book written by — Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, The Vow details the singularly troubled marriage of Paige (McAdams) and Leo (Tatum), a couple whose whirlwind romance and brief engagement sets up a complicated situation. Early in their marriage, the couple are involved in a car wreck that puts Paige in a coma. Upon waking, she has lost much of her recent memory. She has a confused recall of her parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) but no recollection at all of the man beside her claiming to be her husband. Complicating matters further, she has an ex-fiancé, Jeremy (Scott Speedman), for whom she may yet have feelings. But Leo is determined to win back the woman who is already his wife.

There’s a certain amount of disparity between the real-life story as told in the book and what appears onscreen. In particular, the film is a good deal more secular, presumably to appeal to a wider audience. Kim, the man on whom the character of Leo is based, had something to say about that to Fox411.com. “The movie doesn’t talk about faith significantly,” he says. “It would have been nice to see more of it.”

According to the couple, it was their faith that initially sparked their interest in each other, and was the catalyst for holding their marriage together — something that they wish was represented in the film. (The film also at least implies that Leo and Paige slept together before marriage, as well as suggesting other events that contradict the Carpenters’ professed values.) All of this may make the story onscreen more compelling, arguably, but it’s a significant deviation to which the Carpenters could have objected strenuously. But they’re not entirely discouraged, and seem to take the changes in stride.

“I think the movie does depict the inspiration of the battle to hang in there,” Kim explains. “I think the audience realizes we are people of faith.”

The Vow is available starting May 8 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.

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