The Time Travellers Wife

Director: Robert Schwenke
Starring: Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams
Distributor: Roadshow Films
Runtime: 107 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Infrequent violence

Many years ago, there was a rather sweet romantic film with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, Somewhere in Time. More recently there was the romantic, The Lake House, with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. For All Time (2000) with Mark Harmon and Mary McDonnell was based on a Rod Serling Twilight Zone story.

One of the ways of exploring the realities of love and commitment, happiness and sorrow and loss, is to use the conventions of time travel fantasy. Based on a very popular novel by Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife is firmly in this genre – and many audiences have found that they can have more than a little weep as they watch it and remember it.

Time travel seems philosophically impossible as well as physically impossible, bodies moving through space and time – and even, as happens in this story, an older self being present with a younger self.

However, this film does not try to explain anything but takes it for granted that this is a genetic disorder (and can be passed on to the next generation). This means that there are no discussion scenes of how it works. The plot simply gets on with it, establishing it very well in the opening few minutes when the older Henry (Eric Bana) comforts his younger self when his mother is involved in a car accident.

What the film does not quite do for the sceptic’s satisfaction is to explain why, in going backwards and forwards in time and space, the travellers know some things about the past and not others. The travellers do not seem to have any control about where they go and when, which leads to some confusion on the travellers’ part (Henry’s wife knows more about him than he of her because he visited her when she was a child and he was older than when she encounters him in real life; and some know the dates of death and others not).

But, here the review is spending more time on explanations than the film does. Which means that the comment should be more about the characters, how the time travel affects them, especially in their love and marriage, their family, loss and death. If you have surrendered to the basic fantasy and to the characters, then you won’t have any difficulty feeling with them. Eric Bana is charming and often bewildered. Rachel McAdams is prettily smiling and sad as the wife. There are friends, helpful doctors and a daughter who also time travels.

For those who have not read the book, this is just another romantically happy and sad tale of love and loss. Apparently, many of those who have read the book have expressed satisfaction that the film captures the essence of the novel.

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