Movie Monday: The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)

Movie Title: The Time Traveler’s Wife
Movie Release Date: August 14, 2009
Primary Cast: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston
Genres: Drama, Romance, Mystery, Fantasy
Plot Summary (via IMDB): “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.”

Review: This was a movie that was recommended to me by my dear friend Cassie.  I am always looking for movie recommendations and she was more than happy to oblige.  This movie is based on the book of the same name, written by Audrey Niffenegger.  From what I understand the book is quite loved by those who have read it, thus the movie had a lot to live up to.  In some ways, I think I am lucky, as I have yet to read the book, so I had few expectations for the movie (I know how difficult it can be to actually enjoy a movie based on a book if you happen to have read the book).  Still, I did have some hopes for it as I enjoy both Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana.  As always, this review contains spoilers, so beware.

The movie begins with Henry (Eric Bana) at age six singing in a car with his mother as they drive along a snowy highway.  Next thing you know Henry disappears, appearing to have evaporated from the back seat.  Moments later he reappears outside, in the snow, naked, only to watch his mother die in a car crash.  A much older man, who says he too is Henry, appears and tells him that everything will be ok, even if he doesn’t feel it will be right now.  He too then disappears.  Fast forward 25 years or so.  Henry, now an adult, works as a librarian in a Chicago library.  One day, as he is going about his business, he meets Clare (Rachel McAdams), who seems to know everything about him, despite this being the first time Henry has actually met her.  Turns out, when Clare was a little girl adult Henry used to time travel to her in a field outside her house.  Henry is Clare’s best friend and she has been in love with him since she was six years old.  The two quickly fall in love and are soon married, all the while dealing with Henry’s condition, which is actually as a result of a genetic anomaly.  At moments it is difficult for the two, particularly Clare, who has to deal with her husband up and leaving with no notice, sometimes for weeks at a time.  Their love, however, is strong and soon, they decide to have a child.  It is not without difficulty and heartbreak, leaving them both frustrated, and with an interesting incident where Clare sleeps with a younger Henry (it’s not cheating she claims).  As the movie moves on we then begin to wonder, why do we never see Henry, in any of his travels, older than his early 40s?  When we find out, we are heartbroken to learn the reason.

So did I enjoy the movie?  Do I recommend it?  I am going to be upfront and honest.  The first 80 minutes of the movie were a bit slow.  I kept waiting for something to happen.  Henry and Clare fell in love, he traveled, she cried, etc.  Where was the hook?  The climax?  Often when I watch a movie I can tell what direction it is going.  The bad guy is going to eventually get caught, the two lovers will eventually get together, the superhero will save the day.  But with this movie, it honestly felt like we were just going to watch Henry travel throughout time, over and over and over.  Then it hit.  The hook.  The climax.  And then I spent the last 25 minutes sobbing my eyes out.  At the end of the movie my eyes looked like I had been punched, thanks to some non-waterproof mascara.  And so, that 80 minutes of waiting was made null, as those 25 minutes filled me with so many emotions (sad, happy, depressed, exciting, heartbroken, moved) that I could barely think straight.  Well-played, movie, well-played.

The acting of the movie was solid.  Neither of the main characters were a particularly challenging role, in my opinion, however Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana embraced the roles and made them enjoyable, though it certainly does not hurt that they are both attractive to look at.  McAdams is born to play these beautiful, intelligent, loving characters.  It was also great to see Ron Livingston (who played a friend of the couple).  Though his role was not large, he always puts a smile on my face, as I have nothing but fond memories of Office Space.

The direction and flow of the movie was decent.  It was not out of the ordinary, if I am being truthful, but it did not leave me confused or wondering what had just happened.  As I mention earlier, at times it did feel as though as the pacing was a bit slow, but when it comes to time travel, better slow and clear, than quickly and confusing.  Speaking of the time travel aspect of the movie; I thought this was particularly well done.  Whether the credit goes to the directory, screenwriter or author, it was easy to follow and understand.  Often with time travel there are major gaps in the plot, or paradoxes develop that cannot be explained, creating confusion and misunderstand.  With this story, it was always perfectly clear, even if it a bit unrealistic at times.  One particular touch that seemed perfect and made complete sense when traveling through time?  No clothes.  When Henry would travel his clothes would be left behind and he would reappear butt-naked (if you enjoy Eric Bana’s butt then this is perfect for you).  It was the small things like that which made this movie enjoyable.

Overall I give this move a B+. While it had its slow moments, at the end of the movie I can say that it was a 107 minutes well spent and enjoyed.  It’s re-watch value is relatively low, but for a movie night from Netflix, well worth it.  But beware, this movie is not for everyone.  It is not a romantic comedy, in fact there is very little comedy in the entire movie.  It has very little action, and the only nudity is male buttocks.  It is not fast paced.  It is a straight up drama that is meant to tear at your heartstrings.  If you do not like crying, don’t watch it, because I guarantee you will need that box of tissues by the end.

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