Time Traveling is a concept usually reserved for science fiction titles; an idea which makes a compelling idea for flights of fancy, but rarely ever useful for other stories. The Time Traveler’s Wife, a film based from the 2003 novel, tries to destroy this commonly held notion, and apply it to the love story genre, attempting to give audiences something new, while also obtaining viewers from multiple genres. Unfortunately, the film is much like the idea of time travel itself; it is entertaining, but extremely confusing and almost impossible to make a reality. More after the jump:
The Time Traveler’s Wife takes a new twist on the standard ‘boy meets girl’ love story. In the film, Clare is a small child playing in a field, when she meets a strange man who seems to know a lot about her. The man introduces himself as Henry, and informs the small girl that he is a time traveler. He tells her that he will play a big part in her life, and will periodically visit her throughout her life, always at random times in his own life. Before long, Clare falls desperately in love with the strange individual, and begins her life spanning love with a man that can never fully stay with her. As Clare begins her adulthood, she meets a very young Henry, who has no idea who she is. The two then begin to experience all of the moments that Clare was told of growing up, but she soon discovers that the story is not quite the fairy tale she had always hoped for, as Henry is constantly shifting through time, leaving her alone to deal with a linear life.
It’s in the film’s execution that things becoming lost in translation. Typically, a book has a ton of content that simply has to be left out of the film. Robert Schwentke, the director of the film, tried his best to put as much of the book as possible within an hour and a half, which was too much. It feels as though one is watching the movie on fast forward. It disconnects the audience from feeling a great deal about / for the characters, as the viewer is catapulted around from one scene to the next. One thing the novel did very well was give the reader a strong understanding of each character, but the film barely grazes over each person before moving on.
Though the narrative is a bit convoluted, the actors’ portrayal of the characters are dead on. Rachel McAdams does a spectacular job as Clare. She is sincere, graceful and very natural. As Clare becomes more lost in her life, McAdams’ performance shines through, giving Clare a piece of humanity the rapid narrative steals from her. Eric Bana, who played Henry, probably had the hardest job of the cast, as he had to show the conflict and inner hardship his character has with his condition, with very minimal back story or focus from the film. Though he wasn’t able to fully relate this to the audience, it is a credit to his skill that he was able to do as much as he did.
If there is one thing the movie does well, is it does follow its source material pretty well. While many book adaptations change around some key elements, or leave out some rather important aspects, the production crew really captured the novel on film. The characters interacted as they should have, and many of the vital parts were included in the narrative. If only they had not tried to do so much with such a small amount of time.
The DVD has barely any extras worth noting. There is a small feature with interviews with Rachel McAdams, Robert Schwentke, and others, though it is little more than a random thing that you will probably only watch once, if that.
Though the film does feature a great cast and a fun new take on an old genre, the execution of The Time Traveler’s Wife fell short of being memorable. If only the film crew could go back in time themselves, maybe they could tweak the problems plaguing this potentially interesting movie.
Related: Complex’s List of Best Time Travel Movies