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The Time Traveler’s Wife
Stars: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Arliss Howard, Ron Livingston, Jane McLean, Philip Craig, Stephen Tobolowsky and Hailey McCann
Director: Robert Schwentke
Scriptwriters: Bruce Joel Rubin and Audrey Niffenegger, author of the novel
Composer: Mychael Danna
Cinematography: Florian Ballhaus
New Line Cinema
Rating: PG 13 for themed material, disturbing images, nudity and sexuality
Running Length: 105 minutes
When I read Audrey Niffennegger’s novel of time travel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, I was of the opinion you will either love it or not. It takes about half-way through to get the characters and places in line and after that, you are hooked. Not so with the screen adaptation of the novel, that carries the title Wife but really is about Henry, the husband and time traveler and his situations. The film is a better visual aid and even though you haven’t read the book, you can follow the plot. Just don’t go out for popcorn.
Henry DeTamble has a genetic disease (for wont of a better term) that is called Chrono-Displacement. He time-travels immediately from past to future and back and forth. Sometimes he stays in one location for months, other times, it is a few minutes. Life is not easy because when Henry lands someway, he is without clothes. This leads to amusing situations in the film, but really are perilous. The constant in Henry’s life becomes Clare Abshire, whom he meets when he lands in her meadow and she is about eight years old. He is hiding in a bush and she gives him a blanket. He tells Clare he comes there often and it is a special place for him, so she should have clothes waiting for him. When he suddenly disappears, it becomes a lifelong fascination for Clare and love with a capital “L.”
Through the years, we see Clare reach maturity and eventually marry Henry, while he does an invisible dance around her in time. Mean while, we meet the supporting cast of friends and family including Henry’s father (Arliss Howard) a famed violinist, Henry’s late mother, an opera singer (Jane McLean), Clare’s father (Philip Craig), Henry’s geneticist (Stephen Tobolowsky), Henry’s good friend, Gomez who knows the situation (Ron Livingston) and Clare and Henry’s daughter Alba (Hailey McCann) who has inherited her father’s disease. We see how the death of Henry’s mother haunts him through the years, why he doesn’t want to have children and the estrangement between father and son.
Eric Bana, looking like a younger Richard Gere, does Henry just fine. There are many partial nude sections in the film, but it still has a PG 13 rating. His expression of knowing the future ranges from happiness to dread. Rachel McAdams does a lively, patient Clare who finally makes her own decision about something vital to her. Humor is provided by some of the situations Henry lands in and by Ron Livingston as the friend who always has a quip for each occasion.
Photography by Florian Ballhaus is well done to each landing situation and in highlighting that special meadow for Clare and Henry. In fact, the entire film has a sort of gold glow about it, as though we were observing it from another viewpoint in time. This is a different aspect to time travel, involving not only the traveler, but the people around that person. It is difficult to be a friend and a spouse in such a situation. Clare’s story is actually another one and perhaps that will be for another film.
Chrono-Displacement? Who knows? Has your spouse ever disappeared for hours or days on end? Perhaps they will now have a new explanation for the absence. Just be sure to ask them about clothes and shoes.
Copyright 2009 Marie Asner
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