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“The Time Traveler’s Wife” - (Chris)-{Blu-ray}
Reviewer:
Chris Pandolfi-(Movie)-{Bluray} - (Wayne Klein)
Studio: New Line/Warner
Genre:
Drama
Release Date:
2/9/10
Special Features:

Featurette

Review:

While the story for “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is not at all interested in plausibility or logic, it is interested in making an emotional connection with the audience, and so it does. Make no mistake – this adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s novel is about as preposterous as it gets, telling the story of a man who can go back and forth through time but lacks the ability to control when he goes and for how long he’ll be gone. ***

There’s no adequate explanation for his condition, and maybe it’s for the best; this a love story, after all, not a supernatural commentary on evolution or expanded consciousness. Besides, if you were to stop for a moment and really think about the idea, the inevitable questions will eventually be so numerous that you’ll end up with a headache. For this particular story, you’ll be much better off just blindly buying into the premise. ***

Only then will it be possible to appreciate the more engaging aspects of the story, the most obvious being the romance between the time traveler, Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana), and his wife, Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams). Actually, it would be more accurate to say that sometimes she’s his wife – it all depends at what point in time the movie shifts to, and there are many of them. ***

They meet back when she was only six years old and playing alone on her family’s vast meadow. From out of nowhere comes a man from the future without any clothes on, and after she gives him his blanket, he tells her that he will officially meet her years later, at which point she will be a college student in a library looking for an art book. You see, during that first encounter, he was older, nearly forty; in the library, he will be younger, say twenty-five or so. ***

Anyway, as time goes on for Clare, Henry will repeatedly come into and shift out of her life, and they will fall deeply in love and get married. Imagine what this must be like for Clare, never knowing when her husband will appear and disappear out of thin air like a ghost. One second, he’s there carrying dishes to the table for dinner, and the next second he’s gone, leaving Clare behind to sweep up broken pieces of ceramic. A marriage like this really gives new meaning to the vow, “To have and to hold for all time.” ***

One of the unfortunate side effects of his time travelling is that none of his clothes travel with him, so wherever he goes (whenever, rather), he’s forced to steal some by breaking into a store or someone else’s home. And at what age will he be when he gets back? One of the film’s more clever segments incorporates a fair amount of humor and takes place on their wedding day; a younger version of Henry is getting ready for the ceremony, only to disappear in the bathroom. ***

Fortunately, an older version of Henry arrives just in time, albeit with graying hair. This man disappears after the ceremony, right as Clare’s father (Philip Craig) invites them to the dance floor. Fortunately, that’s when the younger Henry returns, and even though he was technically there, he apologizes for missing the wedding. ***

I told you this time travel gimmick was better left unquestioned. Attached to it, however, are emotional issues that are genuinely touching, and this definitely includes Henry and Clare’s attempts to have a baby. I will refrain from going into detail here, but here are some questions to think about. Is it reasonable to assume that Henry’s condition can be passed along to his child? If so, then is it fair for that child to even be born? ***

There comes a point when he seeks the help of David Kendrick (Steven Tobolowsky), a geneticist, and while the results of his various tests do little to shed light on why Henry is the way he is, he does play a pivotal role in helping him and Clare conceive. Henry, by the way, tells Dr. Kendrick that his condition is known as chronoimpairment, a term Kendrick has not yet coined. ***

One other emotional issue that serves the story well is the broken relationship between Henry and his father, Richard (Arliss Howard), who hasn’t been himself since his wife’s untimely death. Henry was only six at the time, but as a time traveler, he continuously goes back to the days before her death and holds brief conversations with her as a stranger. This naturally begs the question of why he can’t simply prevent her from dying. This itself begs the question of why, “I’ve tried, but there’s nothing I can do,” is the best explanation he has. ***

Deep human drama runs through this movie, and that’s what I found the most compelling. Henry’s ability to time travel, however, is conveniently left unexplained. We’re only meant to pay attention to the relationship between Henry and Clare, and indeed, we do. The concept is inherently absurd, but the chemistry between the main characters is not; we able to see them up on screen and actually believe that they’re in love. ***

Special Features & {Blu-ray}

(Chris)-This DVD includes the featurette “Love Beyond Words,” in which Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin and director Robert Schwentke recall the journey made from the original novel to the big screen. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 widescreen format and feature Dolby 5.1 Digital sound.

(Wayne Klein) - (Blu-ray}-Features

We get a solid featurette with "An Unconventional Love Story" taking us behind-the-scenes and allowing us to see just about all the important pieces filmmaking puzzle assembled beginning with Bruce Joel Rubin discussing his script and how he had to craft a narrative that could make the time jumps in the story but not lose the audience in the process to creating visual motifs that would be carried throughout the film to create a sense of visual continuity. ***

"Love Beyond Words" runs around 20 minutes allowing Rubin to discuss in depth the challenges of adapting the script from the novel, trying to stay true to the spirit of the book without leaving the audience that read the book feeling like they had betrayed the source material and to involve those who NEVER read the book. It's a good example of the difficulties that writers often face in taking material from another source and making it work in a medium that has very different narrative challenges. ***

I'm a bit surprised that we don't get deleted scenes, a gag reel or the original theatrical trailer.

Final Words:

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” is an absorbing drama based on a premise that’s impossible to take seriously. How did it achieve this? Much like Henry’s condition, it’s probably better to not question it and just accept it for what it is.

 

 
 
 
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