Adapted from Audrey Niffenegger’s bestselling novel of 2003, Robert Schwentke’s THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE, asks us to suspend our disbelief, and if we are to enjoy this film at all, that is exactly what we must do. Starring Eric Bana as the agonised-looking Henry, and Rachel McAdams as Clare, THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE demands that we ask no questions, for if we stop for even a brief moment to ponder, we will realise what utter nonsense it is.
The Time Traveler’s Wife begins just moments before the death of Henry’s mother in an auto accident. Henry who is sitting in the back seat, suddenly disappears; he turns up naked at the roadside, where an older Henry has come back in time to tell him not to worry. Right away it is established that Henry can choose where and when he will ‘travel’ to. Why, then, the rest of the film tries to convince us that he has no control over it, is beyond me and I was instantly annoyed that I was being played for a fool.
We never see Henry fighting dinosaurs, or having dinner with Henry the Eighth; instead he keeps going to the same meadow to visit his wife when she was a child. Remember now, this man is naked when he ‘travels’, and on their first meeting his wife is a six year old girl. I found this a little uncomfortable. This six-year old Clare is instantly infatuated with Henry and knows that he is the man of her dreams, and one day when she grows up, he will be hers. It’s a little disturbing, to see this grown man constantly visiting this little girl.
There are obvious benefits to Henry’s ‘condition’, such as being able to escape the law, and the knowledge of this week’s lottery numbers; in some ways, this isn’t a curse at all. For Clare and Henry, however, constantly being separated when they least expect it, it does become a problem. The ‘travelling’ intensifies when Clare keeps miscarrying because her unborn baby ‘travels’ from the womb. Henry, trying to find a solution to this problem, has a vasectomy, but a younger, pre-vasectomy Henry, soon put a spanner in the works!
There are mildly amusing moments; there are touching moments, but most of all this film left me irritated. I know that most time travel films have holes in the plot that leave you sitting and trying to figure out ‘How does that work then?’ and ‘Could that be possible?’ – but some time travel films (for intance, the Back to the Future series) are so ingenious and well orchestrated that you can’t help loving them. In comparison The Time Traveler’s Wife is clumsy and dull; it is clear from the get go that it is total gibberish.
Bana had a permanent look of discomfort on his face, which was not particularly appealing, and neither of the two leads ‘played a blinder’. Their daughter Alba at different ages was played by Tatum and Hailey McCann, who looked so ghoulish they would not have been out of place in The Shining! Ron Livingston played the best part as Clare and Henry’s friend Gomez; he brought a little energy to an otherwise flat and unexciting film.
The Time Traveler’s Wife is an average film, with average acting, and a feeble story. It is an easy way to pass the time, but will certainly not leave a lasting impression.
THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE (2009). Directed by Robert Schwentke. Screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin. Cast: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston.