Romantic, pretty, and mild cuz that’s what it is. The out of sequence structured The Time Traveler’s Wife has us wondering about the paradoxes of two different versions of the traveler – one young and one old – arriving approximately at the same space and time. The time travel movie always gets you thinking about such paradoxes. But this time don’t chew so hard. It is better in this particular case if you allow the paradoxes to take a backseat and enjoy this as a romance, i.e., a make-out date movie on the couch. So don’t bitch and moan if this isn’t in the same important realms of a David Fincher or Paul Thomas Anderson film for ya. We all get that it’s not. Make-out movie, that’s what it is. Or if you don’t like to make-out then fine, skip it.
So yes, it is a very mushy romantic melodrama. We get two very nice and gentle souls at its center. Henry (Eric Bana, “Munich”) is the put-upon time traveler who bounces along the time continuum with no navigation control of where in his lifespan he’s going to end up. Clare (Rachel McAdams, “Red Eye”) is the woman that loves him patiently, never really knowing when he’s going to return to the present.
Henry sees Clare through different periods of her life. Clare grows up on her rich meadow prairie, born to the kind of bluebloods who hunt deer for sport, seeing Henry at different ages when he arrives from the future. Eventually their love grows rich enough for them to get married, with an out of control oddity that a silver-haired 40-ish Henry replaces the strapping late 20’s Henry at the altar.
In terms of duress upon departure, Henry will wind up naked whatever new time zone he lands in (he can’t take his clothes or wallet). This leaves Henry with the constant problem of thieving for money and clothes. Henry has never had much stability outside a library research job. Which come now, can’t last. Clare has family money, so Henry not need worry.
But what does Clare get out of this relationship with a guy who just vanishes into thin air at any given time? Well… She gets a dreamboat guy who is kind, considerate and sincere, and all those other fairytale qualities. That’s basically what “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is, a mushy fairy tale that happens to be beautifully photographed in its constant idyllic sunglow. The actors, easily beautiful, have appealing chemistry together.
For Eric Bana, it’s his first success in a romantic flick. For Rachel McAdams, it’s her second success in a romantic flick following “The Notebook.” Repeat, because some of you just don’t listen the first time. We are not talking about a major artistic feat here. Here’s the appreciation: The movie is not is jaded about life. Not at all. You have to be able to believe that there is room in life for some corniness sometimes.
107 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
ROMANTIC TEARJERKER / CHICK FLICK / FRIDAY NIGHT CUDDLE MOVIE
Film Cousins: “Slaughterhouse Five” (1972); “Somewhere in Time” (1980); “Happy Accidents” (2000); “The Notebook” (2004).