As a book, The Time Traveler's Wife charmed millions with its tale of doomed love, but the fantastical premise will make the movie a challenge for some viewers to follow. Eric Bana stars as Henry, a research librarian who suffers from a genetic disorder that makes him disappear suddenly, and then reappear at some other point in time. This makes maintaining his marriage to artist Clare (Rachel McAdams) really emotionally difficult for the both of them. For example, Henry first meets Clare at a library when they are in their twenties, but Clare sees Henry initially when she is 6 and he is 38 because that's the age Harry is when he first travels to that time in the past. Although the adult couple are happy when they're together, Clare often grows despondent because she never knows when Henry will disappear, or for how long. Eventually, hints of Henry's death begin to appear, forcing the couple to appreciate every second they have together.
While that may sound like a confounding setup, the movie has the smarts to not worry about plausibility. No, instead of encouraging you to think about what's happening, director Robert Schwentke wants you to feel -- deeply and profoundly -- every fleeting moment of happiness the doomed couple can share before their imminent demise. The problem is that there aren't enough of them. Between debating about having a child, fighting over his constant disappearances, and trying to figure out why they saw an older version of Harry naked and bleeding on the floor, we're left with so few moments of domestic bliss that it becomes hard to believe Clare isn't certifiably crazy for staying with him. But after all, who said love, or a three-hanky tearjerker, has to be sane?
The Time Traveler's Wife shares something with another time-bending romance, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Both movies offer a fatalistic viewpoint toward relationships -- they want to make it clear that because death is unavoidable, you need to love as strongly as you can and for as long as possible. But where Fincher's film explored this idea at a nearly philosophical level, Schwentke and his crew go exclusively for the gut. The result is a film so single-minded in its attempt to wring tears that it's easy to dismiss, but so effective in its execution that it's hard to deny it achieves its very simple goals.
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- Released: 2009
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: As a book, The Time Traveler's Wife charmed millions with its tale of doomed love, but the fantastical premise will make the movie a challenge for some viewers to follow. Eric Bana stars as Henry, a research librarian who suffers from a genetic disorder th… (more)