The Time Traveler’s Wife is a qualified, if sloppily written, romance between time traveler and wife.
Having never read the novel of the same name, I looked upon The Time Traveler’s Wife and foresaw misery and shame. The movie seemed like a typical romance mixed with science fiction, a combination that would generally ensure instant doom. Surprisingly, the film cleverly blends these two genres, creating a decent, if flawed film.
The story follows the story of Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana), a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to randomly shift through time as he attempts to maintain a relationship with Clare Abshire (Rachael McAdams), a woman who must deal with the surprising departures of her husband during their marriage. The plot fails to explain why Henry has this disease, instead focusing too much on the relationship between the odd couple. The bond is interesting, but it isn’t as absorbing as the infrequent time traveling scenarios are.
The acting of Bana is solid, but the character of Henry lacks any interesting qualities, besides the fact that he can travel through time. McAdams also gives a fair performance, but the character of Clare is an insufferable airhead. This is made clear during a conversation between Henry and Clare, when she suggests that there will be a cure for time traveling in the near future, showing just how silly the writing for this film can get.
The Time Traveler’s Wife is ultimately saved by its brilliant, if seldom, time traveling bits. Sure the movie can get a bit absurd, due to illogical storytelling, but it succeeds at making each of these unique scenes brilliant. Whether it’s the main character visiting the past version of his wife, or the future version of his daughter, the movie displays moments that ultimately save it from being a wretched film. A memorable scene definitely has to be when he meets his deceased mother in a subway. Rather than go crazy and try to explain to his mother what happened to him, Henry decides to casually get information from her, giving her cleverly concealed hints that he is her son. The reason for these scenes being so witty is the way the writers applied these scenarios, as all of these scenes are meaningful and never used as filler.
The Time Traveler’s Wife is what a science fiction romance should be: intelligent, funny and touching. While the film fails at offering explanations to Henry’s cosmic condition, forgiveness can be given when you see some really touching moments, such as someone meeting his future daughter. The Time Traveler’s Wife is primarily a romance, for it merely sprinkles science fiction on your basic love story. It makes good use of the elements it has, and creates an ultimately enjoyable, if messy, cinematic experience.