Review: The Time Traveler's Wife
PLOT: Henry (Eric Bana) has a unique problem. A genetic abnormality has left him with the ability to time travel- although he has no control over where and when he travels whenever a random spell hits him. This has left his life a shambles, but soon, he meets a beautiful young woman named Clare (Rachel McAdams), who claims that a future version of him has been visiting her since she was a child- leaving her hopelessly in love with this elusive figure. Eventually they marry, but his random bouts of time travel begin to take a toll on their marriageÖ
REVIEW: THE TIME TRAVELERíS WIFE, based on the 2003 bestseller of the same name, by Audrey Niffenegger, has an interesting concept- Iíll give it that much. Iím sure the book is a great read, but as a film, itís frustratingly average, as the concept, and storyline should have made for a much better film.
I donít exactly know who to blame for the filmís failure. The cast is pretty solid, with Rachel McAdams once again proving that sheís got what it takes to be a massive star- although sheís let down somewhat by the script- by Hollywood schmaltz master Bruce Joel Rubin (GHOST, DEEP IMPACT, MY LIFE, and the under-seen JACOBíS LADDER). Having not read the novel, I canít say how closely it sticks to the source- but one thing that really bothered me about the film was the fact that we hardly spend anytime with Clare whenever Henry random disappears. At one point in the film, sheís supposed to be upset after he disappears for two weeks, but we never get to see her pain in being left behind- uncertain as to whether or not her husband will ever return from his trip. To me, this seems like a major missed opportunity, as McAdams is a good enough actress and scenes like that could have given the film a little weight- which itís sorely missing now.
Banaís character fares a bit better, although, at times, he comes off as a little bland. I really like Bana as an actor. Heís amazing in films like CHOPPER, MUNICH, and was easily the best thing about FUNNY PEOPLE. However- he needs strong material, which is why he doesnít fare well in films like THE HULK, LUCKLY YOU, and now this. Heís never bad- but heís not really given much to work with here, and I doubt this will his long-awaited breakthrough film.
Supposedly, this was a somewhat tortured production. It was supposed to come out a year ago, but it was delayed due to re-shoots, and I wouldnít be a bit surprised to learn that the storyline was simplified to make it more palatable to a mainstream audience. Obviously, someone involved with it wanted another NOTEBOOK, but the source material is obviously way to dense to make that prospect likely- so the film feels cobbled together at times. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the treatment of Ron Livingstonís character- who pops in and out of the film randomly- even though a climatic farewell scene makes it seem like heís a much more important character than he comes across as. Iím sure thereís another version of this film sitting on a shelf somewhere that probably addresses some of my problems, although I imagine the likelihood of it ever seeing the light of day is faint.
My many problems with the film aside- itís still not THAT bad a film. At times I was entertained, and even moved by it. Itís just damn frustrating, as this could have been a MUCH better film. As it stands, itís a perfectly acceptable date flick- but not much more.