The Time Traveler’s Wife
dir Robert Schwentke
scr Bruce Joel Rubin
prd Dede Gardner, Nick Wechsler
with Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston, Stephen Tobolowsky, Arliss Howard, Jane McLean, Philip Craig, Fiona Reid, Brooklynn Proulx, Hailey McCann, Tatum McCann, Michelle Nolden
release US/UK 14.Aug.09
09/US New Line 1h47
The Time Traveler's Wife
Just in time: McAdams and Bana

livingston tobolowsky howard
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Time Traveler's Wife Adapting Audrey Niffenegger's wonderfully complex novel to the screen can't have been easy, but Rubin (Ghost) has written a thoroughly engaging film. The heavy emotional tone makes it feel a bit girly, but it's still a terrific story.

Henry (Bana) has time-travelled since the night his mother (Nolden) died in a car crash. He can't control his "trips", although he seems to go to places with an emotional resonance. When he first meets Clare (McAdams), she's in her 30s and has known him since she was 6 (Proulx). As a result of this paradox, their relationship develops very differently for each of them. Eventually they find friends (Livingston and McLean) who are in on Henry's condition. And a doctor (Tobolowsky) who may be able to help.

Director Schwentke invests the film with a lush visual style that circles around the characters as they try to make sense of their life together. Subtle effects and clever editing work extremely well, even if Mychael Danna's music is a little too insistently weepy. And while the premise presents Henry's condition as something like epilepsy, the film can hardly help but start feeling like a terminal illness drama, as signs of impending tragedy start to appear.

Bana is good in what's essentially a thankless role. The script doesn't offer him much personality beyond earnestness, so Bana plays him as a nice guy just trying to muddle through. Opposite him, McAdams is a wonderful breath of fresh air, really capturing Clare's steely resolve and quiet pain. Livingston and Tobolowsky are also extremely good in far too few scenes.

There's definitely the sense that this film is edited down from a richer, more detailed novel. One problem is that Henry's ageing is far too subtle, so we're never quite sure which time he's travelling from (see Christopher Nolan's Memento or, better yet, Following, for how to do this well). And although we notice loose threads and missing scenes, the editors have done a remarkable job of making such a fragmented tale hold together both emotionally and logically. And in the end, the film compellingly explores the nature of relationships while quietly moving us to all kinds of tears.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 11.Aug.09

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Time Traveler's Wife Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall