The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Time Traveler’s Wife</strong> (2009)

(In theatres, August 2009): As someone who really enjoyed Audrey Niffenegger’s original novel, I watched The Time Traveler’s Wife more interested in the mechanics of its adaptation than in the romantic aspect of the story itself.  It starts off well, with an opening sequence that efficiently explains what’s going on while remaining faithful to the premise of the story.  It’s no surprise, though, to find out that the most interesting elements of the novel, those that sent readers in unpleasant or horrific territory, have either been softened or removed entirely.  The emphasis of the film is strictly on the romantic aspect, and everything becomes subservient to it.  This being said, it’s amazing to see how little actually changes even when character back-stories are removed (poor Gomez, so useless in the film) and when tense sequences simplified to a shadow of their written selves –such as the wedding sequence.  A few more obviously cinematic sequences, such as the daughter-growing-up montage, don’t really compensate for the loos of the book’s depth.  As straight-up science-fiction, The Time Traveler’s Wife is unconvincing: The time-traveling conceit makes absolutely no sense, and the travels themselves are even more blatantly at the mercy of the demands of the plot than in the book.  It works a bit better as a romance, although many of the less pleasant implications of that aspect are left unexplored.  Still, both Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams are fine in the lead role, and romances don’t ask for much more than that.  The result, all things fairly considered, isn’t a failure:  There’s been a surprising number of romantic fantasies using soft SF premises lately (Kate and Leopold, The Lake House, etc.) and this is a fair addition to the corpus.

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