With Valentine’s Day around the corner, The Vow promises to be the go-to movie for the holiday. Although it seems to be the usual chick flick fare with its leads having starred in notable films in the genre (The Notebook, Dear John), that is not the case with The Vow’s unique true story origins, which bring a realism not present in other films.

“Our goal was to make it realistic,” said director Michael Sucsy. The Vow is Sucsy’s second directing endeavor after the critically acclaimed Grey Gardens. What attracted him to The Vow was not the love aspect of the script but rather the theme of Paige (Rachel McAdams) overcoming the challenge of finding herself after losing her memory of the last five years, including meeting her husband Leo (Channing Tatum). “I’m attracted to tales about becoming yourself,” explained Sucsy.

When we are introduced to the young couple, Paige is an up-and-coming artist living in Chicago with her music producer husband Leo. On their way home from a date, a tragic car accident leaves Paige with no recollection of their history.

A versatile actress, McAdams took the role as a welcome challenge. Paige is introduced as an artsy free-spirit before the accident, but when she wakes up she reverts to the modest conservative woman she was years before. The spark that motivated her change eludes her, and she asks, “Do you gravitate to all the things you were already going toward in your life or does it just start from scratch? Build yourself up as a person all over again?”

This road to rediscovery is also tread by Leo, and the love aspect of the film is merely a backdrop to the obstacles the couple has to overcome.

“It’s so frustrating for Leo because he doesn’t see anything visibly wrong with his wife,” said Tatum. “She talks like her, she walks like her…everything seems the same, but it’s just her memory of him that’s gone. It’s that much more painful that she recalled her old life, but just not her husband and everything they had been together.”

“He’s definitely the rock throughout,” adds McAdams.

Sucsy elaborates, “Channing has a heart bigger than his chest cavity and that realism was crucial for Leo. He’s a white knight. This character is the more like Channing than the tough characters he is known for.”

If Tatum’s acting chops aren’t enough to get you to see the film, then the fact that he gets a lot of screen time in The Vow wearing next-to-nothing might. This comfort being nearly nude no doubt stems from his stint as a stripper in his younger days, which inspired a loose biographical film of his experience, the upcoming Magic Mike

The Vow releases Feb. 10.