The Time Traveler's Wife Gets Lost in Translation
- Friday, August 14, 2009
DVD Release Date: February 9, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: August 14, 2009
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements, brief disturbing images, nudity and sexuality)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi, Adaptation
Run Time: 107 min.
Director: Robert Schwentke
Actors: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston, Michelle Nolden, Arliss Howard, Alex Ferris, Brooklynn Prouix
In theory, it sounds wildly romantic to meet your predestined soul mate when you're only six years old.
I mean, it sure beats a string of go-nowhere dates, the hassles of heartbreak or wondering if Mr. or Ms. Right is ever going to show up. But the big problem with our leading lady Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams) meeting her forever amour Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) before she's even in second grade is that their meet-cute moment is inevitably more creepy than cute.
See, she's just a precocious six-year-old drawing in her favorite meadow when Henry, naked as a jaybird, mysteriously shows up from his recent travels. Asking the young girl for the blanket she's sitting on so he can cover up, the thirty-something stranger eventually strikes up a conversation with her like it's a completely normal thing to do. You half expect Chris Hansen from those "To Catch a Predator" TV specials to emerge from the nearby trees and intervene. But he doesn't, and Henry explains how he's a time traveler to Clare, who is a bit hesitant to believe him at first. With a little convincing, however, she's completely onboard and trusts him for reasons that aren't ever quite explained. But I guess you're just supposed to simply "go with it" since it's all part of their big romance, right?
Eventually promising to keep his mysterious secret (another big no no that wouldn't get much praise from most parents if that was their daughter), Clare starts documenting every time that Henry shows up in a diary and becomes so attached that she even gets jealous when she discovers that Henry is married (to her in the future, of course).
Sadly, the big-screen adaptation of The Time Traveler's Wife is really no more plausible than it was in the pages of Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 far edgier bestseller by the same name. While those who loved the book will probably be happy with the fairly strict adherence to detail in the film, there's still plenty that's lost in translation—like a rhyme or reason to the time travel itself, anything in the way of character development, or depth of human emotion.
Given that women typically like a certain amount of, oh, stability in a relationship, Clare seems to tolerate the inconsistency of life with Henry with little more than an occasional bout of whining because "she didn't have a choice" in the matter. Basically, the movie's logic is that if something is your destiny, you just deal, no matter how difficult it is.
This almost shrugging-your-shoulders emotional response is never more apparent than at the couple's wedding. While many brides and grooms experience a few of those proverbial butterflies because of the huge commitment they're about to make, that's certainly not the case with Clare or Henry. In fact, when a younger version of Henry shows up for their wedding and a much-older, gray-haired incarnation shows up at the altar after the younger Henry disappears just shy of walking down the aisle, Clare doesn't seem the least bit rattled. Instead, the filmmakers cut to a scene of Henry and Clare jumping on the bed, like being married to someone so unpredictable is the most fun a person could ever have.
Flashing back and forward through the couple's life together, Henry and Clare make their best attempt at having a fairly normal life. Or as normal as two people can when one's a time traveler who has to beg, steal and fight for his survival during those random voyages through time. But that doesn't stop them from occasionally using these special circumstances (like winning the lottery because Henry already knows the winning numbers) to their advantage. While the lottery scenario serves as a bit of comic relief in what's a very, very serious movie, the tone immediately shifts again when Henry and Clare start dealing with infertility.
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