When are we?
Love story collides in different eras
The Time Traveler’s Wife is a complicated film for a number of reasons. First off, it exists in a strange mixture of past, present and future, making it difficult to ascertain what’s happening when. Second, it’s more about the time traveler himself than his wife—perhaps because his life is more interesting?—making for an odd lack of focus.
The time traveler, Henry, played by a long-haired (almost a mullet!) Eric Bana, is a charming man. Bright blue eyes twinkle, inspiring confidence despite his lack of clothing (which he loses whenever he time-travels). The love of his life is Clare (Rachel McAdams), who is just as stunning, eyes just as sparkly. She’s been in love with Henry since she was 6 and he first appeared to her in the meadow outside her home.
The main storyline, which takes place in the present, spans the years when Clare and Henry are together, starting from their first meeting, which is awkward to say the least. The thing is, Henry has this unfortunate, unavoidable habit of disappearing, often at inopportune times, and for indeterminate lengths.
This time travel is clearly an interruption of their relationship, but it also interrupts the film’s flow. While director Robert Schwentke does a solid job of letting us know the where/when, the makeup crew is not always on point. It takes audible references such as, “He’s gone gray” to know that we’re watching Henry from the future, not Henry from today. His comings and goings are confusing at times, leaving the audience asking, “Huh?”
The most disappointing thing about The Time Traveler’s Wife is that it’s a perfect example of previews ruining a film. They give away nearly everything that makes the film surprising—yes, I said nearly everything—leading to a major letdown in the theater.
A lot of people—I’m guessing those who read the novel, on which the film is based—are going to really enjoy this love story. It’s certainly original and sweet. Others are going to leave the theater wondering just how it all adds up, how it can possibly make sense, considering the characters live in our modern world—not a fantasyland with time machines and flux capacitors.