Friday, August 28, 2009


Time traveler Henry De Tamble (Eric Bana) shows up naked hiding in the bushes (time travel hasn't been perfected to the point where your clothes make the trip with you) in a meadow where six year old Clare Abshire is playing. He coaxes her into tossing him a blanket to swaddle himself in and then explains the wackiness of his predicament. Then he suddenly disappears as the blanket droops to the ground. Clare, just like ANY girl would be, is immediately smitten by this tripped-out dude.

The next time they meet, it's as young adults in a library, where Clare (Rachel McAdams) recognizes HIM--but he doesn't remember HER because he's still YOUNGER than he was when he encountered her in the meadow. Got that? I hope so because it's indicative of the jumbled mess that is The Time Traveler's Wife--the screen adaptation of the best selling nonlinear novel by Audrey Niffenegger. Because films tend to simplify the intricacies of the novels they are derived from, you can trust me that the book (which I've read) is even more of a jumbled mess than the movie--though Niffenegger is an excellent writer, and the poignancy of the story is way more present in the novel than the film.

My theory of how Audrey Niffenegger wrote the book: First, she wrote the whole story out in linear fashion. Then, she wrote the name of each chapter out on a 3 x 5 card, tossed the cards into the air, arbitrarily reassembled them, and that was the order in which they appeared in the novel. It's a plot device to give you the impression that the story is more fascinating than it really is.

Henry tumbles through time uncontrollably, and every time he and Clare hook up they're each at a different age and different stage of their relationship--which involves courtship, marriage, and the birth of children. Along the way, Clare expresses frustration about being the significant other of someone who appears and disappears without warning for weeks at a time (kinda like being with an actor, which in real life each of them should be able to identify with).

The flaw of The Time Traveler's Wife is that Henry is able to travel even beyond the span of his own lifetime, which makes the events that occur--even the tragic ones--somewhat trivial because we sense that he may pop up at any time anywhere, essentially negating the effects of what happened before. Still, the flaws could have been mitigated had the film possessed a super uplifting sound track, or stunning cinematography...but for the most part, it doesn't.
In fact, most of the peak moments of The Time Traveler's Wife are contained in the trailer, which you've likely seen in the previews or on TV. Whoever put that trailer together is an editing genius, because it makes the movie seem like the romantic event of the decade, and will draw lots of chicks in to see it--especially when word gets around that there are numerous shots of Eric Bana's bare ass.