In life it seems that so many of us take things for granted, we take life for granted but in a moment of impact everything can change. Some say change is good but for many it could mean the end of life as you knew it. Paige (Rachel McAdams) is an established artist in Chicago, her expertise is sculptures and she is currently working on a project for the city. Leo (Channing Tatum) owns a recording studio, which some may think is a dying business since most people can record quality sound on their computers these days, he struggles but survives. These two people are very much in love and share a special bond in life that most couples only dream of having with another person. One snowy night driving in the city they brake at a stop sign and in a matter of what seemed like seconds they get rear-ended by a truck causing Paige who had unbuckled her seat belt to project through the windshield.
Paige, temporarily in a coma, Dr. Fishman (Wendy Crewson) is unsure what damage may have been done to her brain from the accident. What was once familiar is now no longer and even though the brain stores memory the impact happened to rip hers away, at least the memory of the past several years. The years she married and shared with Leo, the true love of her life. After weeks in ICU it has come time for Paige to go home but when her parents show up she is confronted with a decision, her husband versus her parents. Everything seems familiar with her parents Rita (Jessica Lange) and Bill Thornton (Sam Neill), at least up until a point, since she mainly remembers life with them years ago. There is something not right, some hidden secret that lies forgotten in her memory and her family and Leo know what it is although they choose not to make it known to Paige, both for their own reasons.
Convinced to go home with Leo to see if the surroundings may trigger her memory she finds that nothing is known but rather it is all unknown to her. The fact that she doesn’t eat meat, likes hot chocolate from Café Mnemonic, and does not remember ever seeing her husband naked before, although she soon does in a bit of a comical moment, all does not bring back any memory. What is familiar to her though is her parents’ home in Lake Forest, her ex-fiancé Jeremy (Scott Speedman), her sister Gwen (Jessica McNamee) who is about to get married and the life she left behind five years ago. What is hard for her to remember is even more so difficult for Leo as he tries to win her heart once again before she thinks that Jeremy is the one she still loves.
Leo tries with every ounce of his being to help her remember even stepping back as her husband to ask her out on a date for the first time. Even though all goes well she is still unsure of what to do. It’s not until the wedding day of her sister that leads Leo to confront Jeremy, her father and the secrets he keeps from Paige and the final breathe to say goodbye to her forever. Paige is once again following the life she once led and Leo is left with a stray cat and a divorce. Most people divorce for many other reasons rather than the loss of one’s memory. When a relationship is struggling do you stay for all the things done right or leave for the one thing done wrong? Nobody really did anything wrong in the relationship between Paige and Leo but he knew that he needed to walk away. Maybe it would take another moment of impact for her to remember her vow whether written in the memories of her brain or that on an old menu. If only all people could accept one another for who they are and not what others want that person to be than maybe life would be a happier place in time. What was meant to be will be but for some if an old love returns you better hope you’re not seeing anyone at the time or else you may just never have the chance to visit someplace old that would lead you to someplace new.
This story is inspired by a real couple, married with two children. The director does nice work of keeping the story very real and honest, not over doing the plot or its moments of impact. Even the writing was very well done, keeping the dialogue at least interesting if not just a bit lengthy. In the beginning of the film the slow motion impact of the accident as Paige is thrown from the car was very graphic yet very realistic. Proving a point that if she had been wearing her seat belt it would have kept her life as she knew it and not made her relive it once again for the good and bad of what it was. Maybe for the rest of us we get into an accident in life which throws us back in time to once again live the life we always have but this time making some changes along the way.
I have always been a fan of McAdams and after watching her performance in this story I still am. Tatum, the boy next door with a bit of an edge that will surely make the girls swoon, especially during his bare buttock scene but he still comes off a bit stiff to me. I will admit he does a much better acting performance here than he did in “Dear John”, giving his character some depth, a tear or two and that whole likeability factor but he still doesn’t make the connection that makes me, the audience, feel his pain for a true love lost. Lange who has aged quite a bit as did Neill playing the parents that hide a past secret from their memory lost daughter truly both do an exceptional job with all of their scenes. McNamee doesn’t have a huge part but she does tend to pull off the role as the sibling who has Paige’s best interests in mind. Overall a nice date movie that will leave the girls satisfied and the guys not too disappointed for recommending a movie night out. Written and enjoyed with two paws out of four, I’m Jon Patch.