Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"The Time Traveler's Wife"

In a summer filled with testosterone soaked action sci-fi movies like “Transformers 2”, “GI Joe”, and “Star Trek” there's a hole out there for something a little softer, a little more feminine, a little more SyFy meets Lifetime. Well pack your Kleenex, because coming to fill that hole is “The Time Traveler's Wife”.

“The Time Traveler's Wife” is a fantasy/sci-fi romance about Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana: “Star Trek”), a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel without warning, and the love of his life, Clare (Rachel McAdams: “The Notebook”) who is left waiting for him in her present. Now if this sounds like a familiar plot to you, you may remember NBC's 2007 series “Journeyman”; however this movie is based on a novel of the same name by Audrey Niffenegger which was published in 2003.

Henry works in a library, and is a loner and an alcoholic until he meets Clare Abshire, an artist who already knows him well. It turns out that Henry in his future travels back to visit Clare as a child, so while she has known him for most of her life he is only just now meeting her.

Clare and Henry fall in love, and, with the help of her friend Gomez (Ron Livingston: “Office Space”) manage to pull off a wedding (which is easily my favourite part of the film) and start a life together. Things don't stay sunny for long as Clare quickly realizes how hard it is to be married to someone who disappears sometimes for days at a time.

I found the ads for this movie to be somewhat misleading. I went into this expecting 90 minutes of watching Clare seethe about being left alone, but it's not that at all. The movie follows both characters pretty equally, and is actually quite lighthearted, marital strife aside, until about halfway through.

At about the halfway point the film decides to get dramatic by tipping its hand to you about how the film ends. The rest of the movie, even the humourous parts are then overshadowed by the ticking of a countdown clock that you cannot see . This is not necessarily a bad thing, but as the end draws closer more details are revealed infusing the whole movie with a sense of dread.

Like many movies based on books, this film does jump around a lot and tends to feel disjointed. Unlike a lot of movies where it feels like this is a result of cutting things from the book, it works here. A movie where one of the characters keeps jumping from one place to another would almost have to have this feel to it.

The actors all do a good job of bringing their characters to life, and Bana in particular does a great job of not seeming creepy as he is appears naked (when he travels his clothes do not go with him) in the bushes near a young girl and proceeds to spend years of her life setting her up to marry him. A different take on this story could make Henry seem like a manipulative pervert instead of a man pursuing true love.

While I would not describe “The Time Traveler's Wife” as a must see, it is a well made and pleasant film that will make you cry at the end if you are the sort that cries in films (I am not). I will however say that the film is a lot better than the trailers I have seen make it out to be. Unless you really like the actors, or really want to see a tearjerker this weekend, I would just wait for this to hit DVD.

“The Time Traveler's Wife” leaps into theaters on August 14th, and is rated PG-13. The film contains swearing, some blood, sexual themes, and some nudity (mostly Eric Bana's rear end).

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