Starring: Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Arliss Howard, Ron Livingston
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writer(s): Bruce Joel Rubin, Audrey Niffenegger
Cinematography: Florian Ballhaus
Original Score: Mychael Danna
Running Time: 107 Mins.
The Time Traveler’s Wife seems somewhat confused, not the wife herself, that would be the rather lovely and hugely talented Rachel McAdams, no the film, is it sci-fi, weepy/worthy drama or sweeping romantic epic? Well it’s a little bit of everything and therein lies the rub. Yet another adaptatation of a novel, one of those that many saw as somewhat unfilmable and better off confined to the pages of a book and peoples imaginations, it leaps to to silver screen courtesy of “the makers of The Notebook“, which in lamen’s terms means the money men, and in that short sentence alone you will likely know where we are tone wise…some of the time!
You see Henry DeTamble is the time traveler of the title, flitting back and forth in time from childhood to the inevitable end, and everywhere between. His predicament, for that is what time travelling becomes here as opposed to the usual benefit, is that he cannot control when or to where he travels, meaning he disappears at the most inordinate moments, wedding night, childbirth etc. etc. the more dramatic effect the better you may have gathered. This is put down to a genetic disorder Henry has, so upon meeting McAdam’s Clare Abshire in his prime he travels back to see her as a child when he is the older married version of himself, married to Clare you see…if all this sounds a touch confusing, it is.
It is this that proves to be both the film’s problem and its saving grace all in one, for while it is a unique story device and makes for a heart rending love story, it also becomes far too contrived and confusing, (Harry claims at one point he cannot travel to the future yet he does at one point!), and spanning the course of a whole life of different lifetimes into one 107 minute film means much feels forced and crammed in, jumping from major life point to the next, this works in frothy rom-com’s but not when your attemping to forge an epic love story that wants to be more Jane Eyre than Marley and Me.
Thankfully Bana and McAdams are on hand and superbly cast, obviously that they are two fantastic actors does a great deal to elevate the film and add therefore that heft the film-makers’ so clearly yearn for, it is just a shame the characters aren’t given quite enough room to breathe, thankfully they are never offscreen and the time travel aspect is often subtley used to great comic effect, Henry in woman’s clothing is a cracker and the fact that he reappears naked everytime he travels is shamefully amusing.
What provides the film with its coup d’etat is the introduction of something of a twist/mystery revolving around the fate of a central character, and while The Time Traveler’s wife doesn’t become a “whodunnit” it does gain an air of pathos that maekes you think and see a worthy denouement for a film that dared to try and be a little different and largely succeeds but for a little confusion.
Not quite as sweeping as it would like to be The Time Traveler’s Wife is a solid study of romance between two fantastic actors and a unique dilemma.