Movie Review

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)
  • Series:


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.


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zaldar 8/14/2009 12:08:11 AM

nope don't think I am in touch with my feminine side enough to enjoy this one...and not sure enough women are in touch with their male side to get past the sci-fi part...will be interesting to see how it does in the box office.

Hobbs 8/14/2009 6:58:23 AM

Jarrod, I think the word is out that you are kicking spammers off this web page.  Now you have a guy cutting and pasting a review with the spam at the end of blog.  lol

I'm being dragged to this crap tonight by the Mrs.  I would really rather go see District 9 but that's going to have to wait. 

monkeypie 8/14/2009 8:06:29 AM

I think a review for The Butcher's Wife or (really) The Astronaut's Wife would be a little more "Mania" oriented.  But hey, what do I know?  I watched Manimal and loved it when it was on (of course I was 9 at the time).

ddiaz28 8/14/2009 8:42:34 AM

I'm sure I'll end up taking my wife to this as well.  As a rule she hates love story movies and would much rather see something like the Hangover.  But since Eric Bana (the man of her fantasies) is in it, I'm sure she'll want to see it.  I'll just have to put Rachel into some of my dreams.  But I'm actually glad she likes Mr. Bana because that is how I convinced her to see Trek with me and she loved it.  Surprising since another rule of thumb for her is hating anything sci-fi.  I'm seeing D-9 tonight though so I'm psyched!

peak37pt 8/14/2009 1:47:48 PM

If you like Sci-Fi, time travel, or anything remotely philosophical, this is a great story. At least, the book was, so I'm going to see the movie this weekend. It's Very reminiscent of Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick, exploring relationships and love with an interesting fictional premise.  I highly urge you all to disregard the "Chick Flick" aspect of this and give it a try. I'm going to see this and District 9 back to back this week. I hope that you your girlfriends and wives drag you to see it :) I'm curious to know if you like it. 

kinetoscope 8/14/2009 6:26:31 PM

I don't often take the time to post.  I would rather just read the good and the bad that people post.  But... I really enjoyed this book.  My wife talked me reading this book, so I downloaded it and listened to it.   Which was fun because the stroy was told from his side and her side and the audio was performed by a guy and a girl. 

Will the movie be good?  I have noooooooo idea.  But I am guessing I won't be happy.

From the start, I told my wife what this needs is a full season of a TV show or a mini series and not a movie.  It needs at least 10 hours to tell it right.  107 minutes can't do it justice.  So I am afraid that this won't live up to what I would like to see.  Many good books are ruined when they are turned into movies.  Just reading the above article that says it starts off with the accident which we don't find out until much later into the movie scares me.  The cast is good enough to help me forget how bad things have been changed.  If you don't like the movie, read the book even as a sci-fi guy I really enjoyed the whole story.

Hobbs 8/14/2009 8:39:07 PM

After viewing it tonight I agree with what kinetoscope has written.  I can say it didn't suck but it was dragged out and rushed at the same time which is kind of hard to explain.  I thought the chemistry was very good between the two main characters which really helped.  I thought there were a lot of plot holes which is probably better covered in the book which my point about it being rushed is right on with what kinetoscope said.  It would have probably been a better HBO mini series.

Would I recommend it?  Hmmm, nope can't say that I would.  I would recommend waiting for rental.  My wife loved the book, hated the movie if that means anything for you lovers of the book. 

peak, that's an interesting comparison you make.  At first when you said Asimov and Dick I thought no way but the more I think about you might be onto something there.  Interesting debate if anything, I would have to read the book to be able to speak with more intelligence about it and I have to be honest and say the movie didn't make me want to go out and read it.

ChrisBeveridge 8/15/2009 9:47:24 PM

I loved this movie.

satind7 8/18/2009 5:23:44 AM

Time Traveler's Wife is a touching love story . The idea is interesting and there is decent execution to it.

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cellarboylives 8/19/2009 7:25:50 PM

First off, I despise Eric Bana! I don't know why? Wether it was his absolutely horrible potrayal of Bruce Banner in the Hulk or what? There's just something about him that makes me want to gag! Anyway, I did see the movie with my wife today, because she's a love story fanatic, and we both agreed that it was just OK. I'm sure the book would be a great read though.



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