The Time Traveler's Wife Movie Review
Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana star in the long-delayed The Time Traveler's Wife, now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. Based on the popular novel by Audrey Niffenegger, the movie suffers from heightened expectations and a tricky storyline - but is still a fun little movie.
The Time Traveler's Wife is about... the wife of a time traveler. Clare (McAdams) is a woman that has known Henry (Bana) since he was a child, but the first time he meets her is in a bookstore decades later. He has a genetic disorder that causes him to travel through time at any given time, which, as one would imagine, could strain any relationship. Still, Clare and Henry date, get married and attempt to have children, even though Henry may be younger or older on any given day.
The concept is pretty cool and ripe for a sophisticated adaptation. Sadly, Robert Schwentke gives the movie a pretty routine treatment, rummaging through the couple's relationship without any real commitment to showing what makes them tick. For such a unique romantic drama, The Time Traveler's Wife is surprisingly ordinary. The movie lacks imaginative, and Schwentke (and screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin) treats the material as a very straightforward romantic tale.
Having read the first few chapters of the book (I was at the beach and didn't have a book to read, so I borrowed my friend's while she was swimming), I was surprised to see the movie give equal weight to Henry and Clare, or even more weight to Henry. Maybe Henry's perspective is integrated into the book later on, but I recall the book being completely from Clare's point of view; to see such a substantial shift in the movie's perspective - in the first scene, no less - was rather surprising.
This shift in perspective from first- to third-person and a split in screen time between Henry and Clare restricts the movie from burrowing into the character's emotions. Generally, McAdams and Bana lack chemistry, if only for the fact the movie fails to establish why they love each other. The big question poised by The Time Traveler's Wife is interesting: was Clare “forced” to love Henry because he befriended her at such an early age, or did he befriend her first because he had already fallen in love with her? There's an intriguing paradox at work here, but the conflict that stems from it is hardly explored save for two lines of dialogue halfway through.
Despite its shortcomings, The Time Traveler's Wife is interesting enough. Though one of its shortcomings is that it speeds too quickly through the relationship of the main characters, it is definitely fast paced and easy to watch.
All in all, The Time Traveler's Wife is an enjoyable little film, but it could have been substantially better with a more sophisticated approach and a better screenplay.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.