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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > The Time Traveler's Wife

MOVIE REVIEWS

THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE (2009)

Starring Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Jane McLean, Ron Livingston, Stephen Tobolowsky, Arliss Howard, Jane McLean, Brooklynn Proulx, Alex Ferris, Michelle Nolden, Hailey McCann and Tatum McCann.

Written by Bruce Joel Rubin.

Directed by Robert Schwentke.

Distributed by New Line Cinema.  107 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

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The Time Traveler’s Wife 

If you have read many of my reviews, you know that I am on the record as saying several times that time travel is a nearly foolproof plot device.  It is almost impossible to make an uninteresting movie about someone who can transport themselves to other places in history – whether their own personal lives or that of the world in general.  The idea is just so rife with possibilities that it’s really tough to mess up. 

One of the best things about the story concept is that it is so malleable.  These films can work as science fiction, fantasy, historical, drama, action, horror, comedy… the list goes on and on. 

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a time-travel movie as chick flick.  Even this is not all that unique.  Off the top of my head I can think of at least three time-traveling love stories that I have enjoyed in the past – Somewhere In Time, Kate and Leopold and The Lake House – and I have a tendency to avoid chick flicks. 

The Time Traveler’s Wife probably isn’t quite as good as those ones – none of which were perfect themselves, but all lovable in their own ways.  In fact, Wife has quite a few problems – both in storyline and in tone – and yet despite a disturbingly high sappiness quotient, I have to admit I mostly rather enjoyed the movie. 

Like I said, the idea is nearly foolproof. 

Before you get the idea that I am being blinded by the gimmick, I said nearly.  There have definitely been some time travel films that I thought totally botched the idea – including one of the most beloved action films out there.  I won’t name it – let’s just say it was a blockbuster hit starring a future politician that spawned a series of sequels that have lasted over a quarter century – but I saw the final twist of that “classic” coming from miles away, as should anyone who has ever seen a time-travel movie. 

However, we aren’t talking about The Terminator (okay, I did name it, oops…), we are talking about The Time Traveler’s Wife, and while this film has a much more modest aim it also brings forth more modest rewards. 

In this film, the ability to slip in and out of time is looked at not as a blessing, but as a curse.  Since the man afflicted with the ability has no control over his powers, it becomes the ultimate romantic roadblock.  True love is divided by space and time. 

Eric Bana is nearly perfect as Henry – a man who learned young that he would suddenly, without warning, slip away into a different time, landing disoriented and naked in a different place and year than he had just been. 

Somewhere down the line he meets his true passion – an artist named Clare (who is played by Rachel McAdams) – and spends the rest of his life slipping in and out of different points in hers. 

We will overlook, for the moment, the slight icky factor of watching a nearly naked man in his late thirties talking about true love with a six year old girl.  Theirs is a love, we are asked to believe, that transcends age and moments. 

However, in their early 20s the couple is able to spend a good amount of time together – long enough to decide to get married.  (You know a marriage is in trouble when the wedding band plays the first dance with a cover of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – arguably the darkest and most dysfunctional love song ever.) 

That trouble comes as they both try to hold onto their passionate love when he will possibly fade away at any moment – and she never knows what age he will be on any given day. 

From what I hear, this complex and layered storyline is better explained in the long and popular novel by Audrey Niffenegger upon this film was based.  I have not read the book, but I have a feeling this probably is true – often the storyline and characters feel a little rushed or underexplored. 

Sadly, that is a pretty standard complaint about most literary adaptations.  Yet, the plot in itself, while occasionally too labyrinthine, was mostly intriguing. 

The Time Traveler’s Wife is far from the best movie of its sort, but it has enough interesting twists and turns to give a measured, but somewhat enthusiastic, recommendation. 

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 29, 2010.

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Copyright ©2010  PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 29, 2010.