"The Time Traveler's Wife" DVD, Blu-ray Review (2010)

2/11/2010 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Review (2010)

"The Time Traveler's Wife"

Directed by Robert Schwentke, Written by Jeremy Leven and Bruce Joel Rubin, 108 Minutes, Rated PG-13.

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

Romance films have a tendency to either be enormously melodramatic and irrational or true to life and heartfelt--there's rarely a middle ground. "The Time Traveler's Wife," based on the novel by Audrey Niffenegger, is one of the few romance films that manages to succeed despite the trappings of the everyday romance drama.

The time traveler of the title is Henry (Eric Bana). He has a sort of genetic disorder that basically separates him from time and allows him to disappear from one moment and appear in another, either in the past or future. The problem is, he can't control it, and when he reappears in a new time he can't take his clothes with, resulting in a lot of run-ins with the police when he appears in a random spot naked, or when he busts into a store to steal some clothes.

One day at work he meets Clare (Rachel McAdams). She walks right up to him and says she's been in love with him for her whole life. She tells him that years from now he'll go back in time and meet her as a child, and he'll visit her frequently until this very moment where he first meets her in his own timeline. The two begin a relationship and as time passes Henry does in fact go back in time and meet her on the occasions she mentioned.

Obviously, the problem with the relationship is that it's difficult to handle a husband who will disappear for hours or even days unpredictably. Even worse, Henry has gone to the future many times, but he's never seen himself any older than 40. What does it mean? And is it fair that he has a relationship with Clare? Did she really fall in love with him of her own free will, or does this endless cycle of time continuously lead Henry to go back in time and introduce himself to her so that she will inevitably dedicate her entire life to him? Is there a possibility of free will when it comes to a man who has his entire history laid before him?

The relationship between the two isn't developed particularly well. It mostly involves quick montages or flashbacks (well, not really flashbacks, but Henry going back in time--they're basically flashbacks). Even so, because of the really splendid performances from both Bana and McAdams, the couple have great chemistry and the love feels real. You can truly sense the anguish when they both know Henry is going to leave again. Their lives continue on despite the constant dread that someday Henry may not come back.

I suppose the major flaw of the film is how ridiculous the time travel mechanics are, but since time travel is a virtually absurd concept regardless (with "Primer" being basically the only film to ever explore the idea semi-realistically), it's pretty forgivable, and it's more allegorical than anything anyway. The effect of Henry disappearing is pretty well done as well.

So, "The Time Traveler's Wife" works quite well despite following the general outline of the romance film. The relationship feels real and the concept makes for a very mature and wise exploration of free will, love and memory. Quite honestly, the film succeeds where the moderately similar and more acclaimed "Benjamin Button" failed. It makes the characters likable without making them caricatures, and for the most part the romance is extremely effective. A surprisingly emotional and underrated gem.

Grade: B

View the trailer for "The Time Traveler's Wife" below.  What are your thoughts?

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