As far as hackneyed soap opera tropes go, the old “selective amnesia” chestnut takes some beating – boy meets girl, girl forgets boy, boy tries to jog girl’s memory – and the basedon- real-events tag can’t negate the schmaltz factor at the core of Michael Sucsy’s debut.
“Are you trying to make me diabetic?” Rachel McAdams asks Channing Tatum after a chocolate-heavy date, and well she might – this is a couple whose relationship places them at risk of saccharine-induced coma. He writes her messages on pancakes with blueberries. You get the idea.
It’s almost a relief when a car crash leaves her with a head injury and no memory of Tatum or his blueberries.
But as plot machinations would have it, the years she’s forgotten don’t just involve meeting Tatum, but a transformation that saw her ditch law school in favour of a free-spirited life in the city – a scientifically dubious premise that nonetheless makes for surprisingly effective conflict.
Much of the appeal is down to McAdams, on such charming form that it’s just plain enjoyable to watch her, despite the broad strokes her internal struggle is painted in – she used to be conservative like her cartoonish family, but now she’s so arty and passionate she (gasp) doesn’t even straighten her hair.
This is one of those movie worlds in which rejecting a bourgeois existence means living in a vast Chicago apartment with its own art studio, where you spend all day faffing about with collages.
But the filmmakers do resist the temptation of a sweeping reunion or climactic “a-ha!” moment, and it’s in the understated ending that reality makes itself felt.
For all its clunky scripting there’s an essential sweetness at work here, thanks partly to McAdams and partly to an unusually chaste love story that ultimately keeps melodrama at bay.