Retro Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

Okay, I am going to say I didnt read the best-selling novel of the same name before I saw this movie.

The reason I ran out to see the film was because I am such a huge fan of “time traveling, tragic romance” style of films. I don’t know why, maybe it is because I am softie inside or just because I am obsessed with time travel, I just think they are incredible stories.

My favorite in the sub-genre is the very underrated but fondly remembered “time travel” romance SOMEWHERE IN TIME which starred Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. That last scene in the film still makes me gasp and then I scream at the TV, “no!” (Oh on another note, when are we going to see that film on Blu-Ray?)

Time Traveler’s Wife finds a young Henry (Eric Bana) discovering that a beautiful stranger, Clare (Rachel McAdams) knows his secret that at the drop of a hat he could be whisked off to another moment in his life. When Henry was a boy, he discovered that he had a genetic defect that allows for him to instantly transport to another time in his own lifespan. He also happened to have discovered the defect during a car crash.

Clare claims that he has been visiting her throughout her life ever since she was a little girl of six. And that they are in love.

Henry is confused at first but no one knows his secret and she knows so many specifics. The rest of the film follows their love affair as they try to work around his defect.

Time Traveler’s Wife had all the ingredients to become a classic time travel tragic romance but it just doesnt deliver. From what I have read, the novel is very internalized as we follow both sides of the romance through their journeys. The film does that just forgets to fill in some of the major plotpoints that should be addressed to non-readers of the book.

I am normally not a fan of Eric Bana but here I really enjoyed him. I think he started to grow on me in the romantic comedy, Lucky You with Drew Barrymore. Here I found him engaging, thought provoking and well a stable leading man. And as for Rachel McAdams, she is sweet and genuine and delivers her character’s focus on hope with real panache. This isnt the first tragic romance for McAdams and that seems to what holds the film together. I also really enjoyed the little actress who played Clare at six. That kid is astonishing to how good she is.

I also know that the way he disappears is going to be controversial. But I liked the slowly erasing effect it really accented the way he describes the way the journey feels. It also made the seperation between the lovers slow and subtle instead of abrupt. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the case for every departure.

The movie also reminded me of the TV series Journeyman which was one of my favorite series of the past five years. It was sort of this film except married to Quantum Leap. It was about a man unstuck in time who always struggles to get back to his wife and child. The tragic romance slipped into that show was brilliant and his famous line in the final scene “I will always come back to you” still makes me smile. It is really too bad that show isn’t still on. (Still waiting for the DVD!)I loved everything about it and I imagined a couple times Bana saying that to McAdams but it was never said. And that is tragic! You need lines like that!

3 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

One thought on “Retro Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

  1. This is a movie that could have been so much more but needed a bolder (and better) director and screenwriters to make it work. Sticking to the book’s structure contributed to the feeling that it skimmed through the story. Too bad it had a lot of potential and the actors really did some fine work. I also liked the performance from the little who played Alba, she was so touching especially after she learned about Henry’s pending fate.

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