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The Time Traveler’s Wife review – McAdams needs a Big Mac!
Let’s get one thing straight Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife is an awesome book. That being said, most great books don't make such great films (for those of us who bother to read the novel). With this in mind then it is important to note that I am immediately biased on the film adaptation starring Eric Bana
as the unfortunate Henry DeTamble and Rachel McAdams
as Clare Abshire. Nevertheless I will attempt to be sitting on the objective step for the most part of this review.
Who am I kidding? There is no way I could ever be objective. What first bothers me about this film though is the advertising that accompanies it. Clearly someone at the advertising agency believes that no man (who doesn’t require lady shavers or play Bingo) would ever watch this film. For a full 20 minutes we were inundated with feminine hygiene products for us to buy! Did I go and watch a chick flick by my lonesome? It seems so.
A romantic drama about a Chicago librarian with a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel and the complications it creates for his marriage.
In the first reviews to hit the net of The Time Traveler’s Wife, a reoccurring theme appears. It has been compared (sadly) to The Notebook. Perhaps this is because the painfully thin Rachel McAdams stars in both. Perhaps it is because many have claimed that The Notebook was a better tale. That is complete rubbish. Not to take anything away from The Notebook (another excellent film) but The Time Traveler’s Wife stands alone. Why? Because I said so!
For the most part Bana’s character spends the time getting nekkid for the female members of the audience to giggle at stupidly. He seems to do a lot of leaving and less arriving which is unfortunate as the book focussed on both of these. The novel also had two perspectives (Henry and Clare’s) so that you could appreciate how both felt about Henry's traveling. This is lacking in the film somewhat. You feel as if a dual narration would have made the piece so much better.
Accompanying Bana is Rachel McAdams in the title role. She manages to strum up a tiny bit of chemistry with Bana (thankfully) but never manages to be his intellectual equal (as is told in the book). Whilst the female audience members are offered a regular glimpse of Eric Bana’s naked backside on regular intervals, the male members of the audience are offered one single rear shot of a naked McAdams which almost made me physically sick! That woman is skeletal! Why on Earth did Robert Schwentke (director) think that shot was at all appealing? It wasn’t!
In 1981 Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour starred in a similar tale of love and time travel (Somewhere in Time
). It has now gained cult status and it is important to consider whether The Time Traveler’s Wife will accomplish the same. Somehow I doubt it. This is surely down to the fact that although giving your heart strings a small tug, the film never really pulls them to the extent that the book does. If anything is to be remembered in history it is the book and not the film.
That is not to say that The Time Traveler’s Wife is a bad film. Far from it. It was immensely enjoyable from many perspectives. Unfortunately with the exclusion of certain details from the book I can’t help but see flaws in it. This happens especially with a rewritten ending which is sufficient but nowhere near as powerful as the novel.
Henry’s dual life and necessary brutality was barely covered in the film which is a shame as the focus of its attention was on the fact that he is always “travelling”. More of a plot could be milked from his inability to balance a calm and relatively peaceful home life with the brutality of travelling.
Henry’s discussions with the child Clare was handled especially well and you didn’t feel as uncomfortable as you’d imagine watching a late-thirties man talk to a young girl who was waiting naked in a bed sometime in the future.
In truth the film was only lacking due to two things. Firstly, the ending change may not seem like much but you felt as if the replacement was somewhat lacking in emotion. It was an emotional film and you expect the knockout punch to be at the climax of the piece. It wasn’t. If they had stuck with the original ending then there would not have been a dry eye in the house. As it was, only I was crying! Secondly, the skeletal body of McAdams was so much of a distraction that I feel as if The Time Traveler’s Wife deserves to lose a half point. It is a sad world where we consider bones visibly protruding through skin as attractive. It isn’t – not by a long way!
A solid and entertaining love story with a predictable ending. Some plot changes have spoiled the climax somewhat and only a painfully thin McAdams detracts from otherwise a highly recommended film. Watch it and learn what it feels like to cry like a child once again!
Rating: 4 out of 5