Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife: Review (minor spoilers)

Obviously, if you've already read the novel upon which the movie is based, this review won't contain any spoilers. However, if you've not read or heard anything about it, this might reveal a bit more than you'd like. Here's the summary of what I thought first, then I'll add specifics. I really liked it. The Time Traveler's Wife is a wonderful love story with a bit of a fantasy (or futuristic) spin. 4.5 of 5 stars/lambs, not quite perfect, but there were elements of the book I similarly thought weren't great and the movie was wonderfully faithful to the book.

Now, the specifics of what I liked and why. Eric Bana stars as Henry DeTamble, a research librarian who has one small anomaly, he un-willfully travels through time. He can't control where or to when he goes or even when he'll return to normal time. When he's in his 30s and 40s he travels back in time and meets a little girl named Claire. Claire spends her life growing up and becoming friends and ultimately falling in love with Henry, even though he only visits as an older man and infrequently. However, they meet when they're both in their 20s. Claire has known him her whole life, but in his 20s, Henry has not yet met Claire. That's sort of where the movie starts, and then follows Claire's life in real time, with flash backs and forwards following Henry. As I'd hoped, the movie is much easier to follow than the book, which just gives you dates and the characters ages to keep you oriented, while the movie gives you actual images of each person at a given age to compare (they grey Henry's hair, cut Claire's hair, etc.). We follow Claire and Henry through falling in love, marriage, and children, all the while struggling with how to understand and deal with Henry's "condition". While I never picked up on the underlying messages in the book, the time travel and the love story is too strong, the movie does a terrific job, mostly with the acting, of introducing greater themes the material is exploring. The idea that the person you love could have a disease, disability or "condition" is one that many if not all couples will someday deal with, and we get to watch as Claire (a wonderful Rachel McAdams) struggles with trying to hate the "condition" and not the man. I think she reaches an equilibrium and questions whether it's fair have to love someone with this condition and how you can get through it. Okay, that was the weightier theme that I really liked. The other issue they do a terrific job of demonstrating is the concept of fate and choice. If Henry will eventually always go back in time and meet Claire, does she really have any choice but to fall in love with him when she meets him again as an adult? If he knows the house they will eventually live in, does he have to search until he finds that house, or can he choose whatever he wants? They do a good job of explaining their paradigm of time travel in the film. It's a great love story too, Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana have great chemistry. Also, the supporting characters of Ron Livingston (currently in "Defying Gravity" on ABC which is a great series so far) and Stephen Tobolowsky as Dr. Kendrick who helps the couple figure out how to keep their fetus from time traveling before it's born. I cried very hard at the end, and that's all I'll say. Terrific movie for anyone who likes love stories, sci-fi, fantasy or great acting.


Buttercup said...

Nice review. I didn't especially like the book, but I'd see anything with Eric Bana and you make the movie sound like I might really like it.

Fletch said...


Please stop seeing only chick flicks.


A loyal reader who hasn't seen any of the last four films you've reviewed and therefore has nothing significant to comment


Jess said...

Fletch, I'm working on it. The movies showing at our theater haven't been particularly good - G-Force, Aliens in the Attic, and GI Joe. The chick flicks ARE the best option right now. I'm hoping to see District 9 when it opens here this weekend.

I do have some very neutral DVDs waiting for the weather to start sucking again. Then I'll have more non-chick flick fare.