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The Time Traveler's Wife Review

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by AVForums Feb 18, 2010 at 12:00 AM

    The Time Traveler's Wife Review

    I've always loved the concept of time travel, whether possible or not, so I loved 'The Time Machine', 'Back to the Future' and TV's 'The Time Tunnel'. The very thought that you could visit and witness great moments in history or perhaps even meet your own parents before you were born really appealed to me.


    Now, a lady called Audrey Niffenegger wrote a best selling novel called 'The Time Traveler's Wife' which, to be honest, I haven't read but it must have been pretty good as the book buying public aren't easily fooled into parting with their cash. The book is around 500 pages, so film director Robert Schwentke and scriptwriter Bruce Joel Rubin had to decide which parts of the story to leave out to produce a 107 minute movie. The decision was made to focus on the love story between artist Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams) and Henry De Tamble, played by 'Star Trek' movie villain actor Eric Bana.


    We're thrown headlong into the story when Henry as a young boy has his first experience of time travel just at the very moment that the car in which he is travelling with his Opera singer mother is involved in a fatal accident. He finds himself standing naked by the roadside when a man, claiming to be him having travelled back in time from the future, explains that he'll understand it when he's older.
    The audience isn't given the chance to get to know any of the characters before this happens, so there's a mixture of disbelief and lack of involvement at this point.
    The story hops about as Henry hops about in time. We see him meet his future wife as a young girl while he is a mature man. It's a little bit disconcerting that whenever he travels in time, he never takes his clothes with him so he arrives at his destination naked. The scene between a naked man in the woods and a young girl could easily have been distasteful, but it's handled with some care.
    He later meets Rachel in a Library where he works, but this time she knows him and he doesn't know her as he hasn't met her yet.


    It's all about different time lines and meeting people at different points in their lives.
    I was reminded of 'Benjamin Button' for a while, but this film's premise is more haphazard as you never know if Henry is going to be younger or older, depending on which version of himself is doing the time travelling.
    Confused? Stick with it for a while and you'll catch on.
    The love story between Rachel & Henry plays out with the interference of time travel. Rachel never knows when Henry is suddenly going to dematerialise and leave a pile of clothes behind him.
    Their close circle of friends are let in on the secret, so that it's not a great shock to them to see Henry vanish, although when Gomez (Ron Livingston) finds Henry dressed in women's clothes one night he starts to get uncomfortable. By the looks of things, Henry's using a far fetched time travel story to cover up the fact that he's secretly a transvestite - but then he vanishes before his friend's very eyes and all becomes clear.


    The pace of the film is somewhat jumpy for the first half hour, but it then settles down as things are explained and the audience is drawn into the story. A Doctor diagnoses Henry's problem as genetic, so it's no great surprise to find that Rachel & Henry have a daughter, Alba, who also demonstrates an ability to travel in time.
    Without revealing too much of the story, it's safe to say that the over-riding theme is that true love transcends time and tide.
    By the end of the film I did care about Henry & Rachel, but my interest ebbed and flowed during the body of the tale.
    Rachel McAdams is excellent in the role of the wife who has to share Henry with younger versions of herself. Eric Bana was quite a surprise and a revelation after his appearance in 'Star Trek'. He handles the love story sensitively and convincingly. The chemistry between the two leads actually did come across well.



    For Special Effects fans, it needs to be pointed out that while the time travel effect is convincing, the movie isn't really about the sci-fi aspect. As previously mentioned it's a love story between two people, one of whom just happens to time travel.
    I suppose Rachel was suffering the same problems as someone married to an overseas sales rep but with added complications as the business trips cropped up quite literally at the drop of a hat - or rather shirt and trousers.



    The photography in 'The Time Traveler's Wife' looks beautiful courtesy of cinematographer Florian Ballhaus, with lush green meadows and golden lighting. This contributes to the love story aspect through the use of selective focus on a long lens - taking the attention away from the more clinical sci-fi vehicle.


    It must have been a difficult call to condense the book down to roughly one fifth of its length for the big screen and there are those who claim that many of the best bits have been left out. It used to be said that a movie was never anything like the book it was based upon, but in this case I cannot really comment.
    Suffice to say that 'The Time Traveler's Wife' will be boosting the sales of Kleenex tissues with its DVD and Blu-ray release in the immediate future, or maybe even in the past!.