US Release Date: 08-14-2009
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
- Eric Bana, as
- Henry DeTamble
- Rachel McAdams, as
- Clare Abshire
- Ron Livingston, as
- Arliss Howard, as
- Richard DeTamble
- Brooklynn Proulx, as
- Clare at Six and Eight
- Stephen Tobolowsky, as
- Dr. David Kendrick
- Hailey McCann as
- Alba at Nine and Ten
Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana.
The Time Travelers Wife is meant to be one of those movies that grabs you by the heart, and then breaks it. If you can accept the science fiction angle you may get caught up in the drama. If not, the entire movie may seem a little confusing.
As a child, Henry discovers that he has the ability to travel through time. He does not control when it will happen or where he will go. It is triggered when he is angry, excited or frustrated. He usually travels to places and times within his own life span. Most of the trips do not last long, then he goes back to his normal lifetime. He encounters himself many times. He also travels naked as nothing material can go with him. He is forced to steal clothes.
During one of his time travels, he meets a little girl, Clare, in a meadow behind her parent's home. They talk and become friends. She also starts leaving some clothes for him. The idea of a middle aged man, wearing only a blanket, talking to a little girl alone in the country is odd, if not a bit disturbing.
The time travel angle may take some getting use to. One day at a library, the adult Clare runs into Henry, who has no idea who she is. He has yet to travel back in time and meet her. Since he knows of his abilities, he accepts her story as truth.
They fall in love and get married. They argue over his constant and sporadic absences. They buy a house. They try to have children. Take away the time travel and you have two very normal, average, unexciting people. One day a future Henry briefly appears naked and bleeding in the middle of their house, obviously foreshadowing something bad.
My wife liked the love story, but could not get past the time travel confusion. At one point Clare cheats on Henry with Henry. It did not bother me so much, but then I was bothered by the politics. Henry's Mom is a trained singer and his dad is a professional violinist. Clare's parents are rich and her dad hunts. Can you guess their politics? Henry even has to warn his Dad prior to the wedding that, "They are Republicans." Another scene has Henry beating up some guy and calling him a homophobe, because Henry was wearing some woman's clothes he stole. In typical twisted liberal logic, it is okay for Henry to be a thief, but not okay for another man to make fun of how he is dressed.
The entire movie rests on the gimmick that Henry travels through time. It happens often and it keeps things interesting considering that the main characters are none too exciting. Ron Livingston has a small role as a friend. He should have been the comic relief, but is given very little to do. Although the final scene of Clare running through the woods to see Henry may put a lump in your throat, it is not enough to make up for all of the gooey scenes of Henry and Clare merely staring doe eyed at each other.
Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana.
It wasn't the Science Fiction angle that bothered me. It was the weaknesses of the Science Fiction. It left way too many questions unanswered and its rules were never explained. What you have is a rather dull love story marginally enlivened by the gimmick of time travel.
I was almost willing to go along with the idea that somehow genetics causes someone to time travel so long as Henry was only traveling to his own past, but as soon as he started traveling to the future the story jumped the shark and the impacts of that are never fully explored. Although, to be fair the ability to travel to the past is never fully explored either. In fact the time travel is treated so casually and Henry is so caught up in himself that he never does anything with this amazing power except to stare at his own navel and constantly rehash all of the emotional moments in his life. Only once does he use his power for anything when he uses it to win the lottery. I mean, does he ever warn his past self about 9/11 for instance and thus potentially save thousands of lives or even give himself stock tips or tell himself who wins the World Series? Shouldn't the first thing he does every time he travels is try to find a newspaper?
Only you Eric could be bothered by the "politics" in this movie because the politics in this movie is non-existent. You're seeing phantom liberals here. Although what I actually think is that this movie offers so very little that you were looking for something, anything in it.
I do have to agree with you about it seeming kind of creepy when the naked man is hiding in the bushes while the little girl is having a picnic. In the context of the story it's not creepy because of their relationship, but somehow, the way it's filmed it really comes across as wrong.
The most sure fire way I have of knowing this movie didn't succeed is because of the way my wife reacted or rather didn't react. Making her cry during a movie is like shooting fish in a barrel. She even cries during Robin Williams' movies! The end of this movie though; not even a sniffle.
If I could go back in time to warn my younger self of things, at least one of the things I'd mention would be to not bother watching this movie.
Henry has a picnic with his future wife.
This movie is unintentionally hilarious. A character miscarries during several pregnancies because the fetus is time traveling?!! This conjured up the image of a bloody fetus crawling along a sidewalk somewhere in search of a new womb to inhabit.
Eric, you mention that after his time traveling trips he returns to his “normal” time. The problem is that according to the logic of this movie there is no normal time. Since he (and his daughter) are both able to be in the same time in more than one incarnation there really is no normal time. At any given moment an infinite number of Henry’s are possible, one from every single second of his life. It is all patently absurd.
And time travel is theoretically impossible because it functions under the basic conceit that all time is happening simultaneously, albeit in different dimensions. If this is true why hasn’t anyone from the future ever traveled back in time?
Apart from the botched time travel angle, the romance is heavy-handed and trite and I agree that the naked-grown-man-in-a-blanket-talking-to-the-young-girl-all-alone-in-a-field-about-how-she-will-be-his-future-wife is creepy. The entire thing is handled with such complete seriousness by Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams (two of my least favorite actors) that it almost qualifies as a camp classic. Perhaps in some other time…
Photos © Copyright New Line Cinema (2009)