Mania Grade: B
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- Rating: PG-13
- Running Time: 1 hrs. 48 min.
- Starring: Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Ron Livingston, Alex Farris, Michelle Nordan, Arliss Howard
- Written By: Bruce Joel Rubin (screenplay), Audrey Niffenegger (novel)
- Directed By: Robert Schwentke
- Distributor: Warner Bros. (New Line)
THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE Review
A bit of romance with a dash of genre.
By Liana Aghajanian
August 14, 2009
ERIC BANA as Henry and RACHEL McADAMS as Clare in New Line Cinema's romantic drama The Time Traveler's Wife
© Rich Kuras
Based on the best-selling book of the same name, The Time Traveler’s Wife is in the simplest terms, a genuine, cry your eyes out till you can’t see the screen love story, peppered and laced with science fiction elements that will no doubt leave you confused and yearning for more explanation, of which you get not much more than a vague medical term that’s thrown around throughout the second half of the film.
For all the perplexity surrounding the disappearing act, The Time Traveler’s Wife isn’t trying to be something it’s not, with strong performances from both Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, whose time during The Notebook leaves her poised for her role as Clare, and delicate details that enhance the film, this epic romance that yearns to stand the test of time holds up delightfully well, just be sure to bring your girlfriend along for this one, and tell her not to forget the tissues.
The film starts off with a young Henry (Bana) experiencing his first time travel during a traumatizing car accident that leaves him reliving that moment over and over again. His life moves forward, so to speak, as best as it can, with Henry constantly time traveling and finding himself sans clothes and in compromising situations because of a “rare genetic anomaly” he can’t seem to control that is triggered by stress.
Because of his circumstances, he leads quite the lonely life, that is until he meets Clare (McAdams), a bubbly young artist at the library where he works. Put your popcorn down, this is where it starts to get baffling – Clare knows Henry as the man who visited her countless times in her youth and throughout the years, he’s come to be her best friend. Clare, with her wide, longing eyes has clearly decided that her destiny is with Henry, but he’s not so convinced. “Can we pretend, just for a minute, that this is the first time we’ve met,” he tells her over dinner.
So begins a love that struggles to withstand the test of time – Clare desperately tries to build a life with Henry, but of course, his condition tends to complicate aspects of life that transcend the realm of comprehension of normal couples.
The Time Traveler’s Wife is charming, even in its small nuances and details. The film features an appropriate clock motif as well as the clever use of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” during a scene. Its tender moments are heart wrenching and genuine, due to both lead actors’ chemistry and performance in their individual roles. Bana as the tortured soul forever enslaved within the hourglass and McAdams as strong-willed Clare who knows what she wants and accepts the consequences of attaining it.
Putting aside the film’s hard-to-believe subject matter that you slowly begin to unconsciously well, believe, it does suffer from a few inadequacies, like the clunky dialogue amongst supporting characters in the film. One such contrived and bland exchange occurs between Clare's friend Gomez (Ron Livingston) and Henry, one of the few people in the film to witness Henry's anomaly first hand.
Clare's parents portrayed by Fiona Reid and Phillip Craig don't measure up well either, though there parts are so miniscule, you barely even notice.
McAdams doesn't benefit from the slightly rough script either, especially when she declares, "What's wrong with my wanting one normal thing in my life." Newsflash, Clare - you're with a time traveler.
Unlike the script, the cinematography, headed up by Florian Ballhaus comes off strong with sweeping fields in scenes involving a young Clare and the grittiness of Chicago during Henry's travels, with actual shooting that took place in Ontario, Canada.
The score, composed by Mychael Danna blends seamlessly with the film and isn’t typical of cookie cutter romantic drama scores that frankly hurt films rather than adding to them.
Different than other films of the same nature, where the fate of characters are slightly more mysterious, you know what you’re getting yourself into with The Time Traveler’s Wife – a quick viewing of the trailer is all you need to confirm this. Still, it’s not enough to keep you from leaving the theatre with unanswered questions, puffy eyes and an inkling to pick up the 2003 best-selling book it’s based on.
Make no mistake, this is not a 107-minute exploration into why and how Henry gets sucked from one time to another, it’s a film where such an incomprehensible concept plays second fiddle to a love connection bound for eternity, and that's something you may or may not be able to appreciate, depending on how in touch you are with your feminine side.