Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

by Pa Rock
Citizen Film Critic

Last night I had to get out of the house, to get away, to lose myself in some pleasant diversion. I headed to the movies, and I knew exactly what I wanted to see: something that wouldn't appeal to screaming kids, adolescents who had to constantly check their text messages and bang out replies, and crowds. After reviewing all of the selections, The Time Traveler's Wife seemed to hold the most promise for a quiet evening.

I walked into the theatre one hour early, bought a large buttered popcorn and a big drink, and parked myself dead-bang center in the back row. I had brought my notebook and a pen, so I munched, sipped, and wrote for quite a while before anyone else stumbled into the room. It was a wonderful evening, and, if the movie turned out to be good, well that was just gravy. Eventually all of a dozen people wandered in to join me.

And gravy it was! The Time Traveler's Wife is a dramatic jewel with facets of romance and science fiction. It sparkles from beginning to end. Eric Bana plays Henry, a young man who discovers early in life that he has the ability to travel through time. Henry does not have the ability to control this talent. When his body suddenly transports out of one place and time, his clothes remain behind, and he arrives naked at his next stop.

Henry is standing naked in some brush one day having just arrived through a time jump. A little girl named Claire comes along and sets up a picnic in the meadow that surrounds the brush. Henry calls to Claire, by name, to hand her picnic blanket into the brush so that he can cover himself, which she eventually does. They become lifelong friends, and Claire eventually grows into a beautiful young woman (Rachel McAdams) who becomes Henry's wife.

Claire has known about Henry's uncontrollable ability to travel through time basically her whole life, but she marries Henry without fully recognizing the effects that his unique gift (or curse) will have on their life as a couple. Henry almost misses their wedding because of one of his sudden trips, and when he returns just in time for the ceremony, he is several years older than he had been when he left. He misses their first Christmas and New Year's together as husband and wife because he has popped off somewhere and cannot get back. Finally, as a gesture of contrition, he uses his talent as a time traveler to secure the winning numbers for the Illinois lottery and is able to buy Claire a nice home with room for her art studio. (So being a time traveler does have some practical advantages!)

Henry finds a doctor who studies his condition and refers to it as a "genetic anomaly," which proves to be a major complication as he and Claire try to become pregnant.

The Time Traveler's Wife is a clever idea that began as a novel by Audrey Niffenegger and was transformed into a tight and effective screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin. It has the feel of Somewhere in Time, but is highly original and stands well on its own. This is a movie that inspires contemplation, and that in itself is worth the price of a ticket - and the popcorn and drink!

1 comment:

BK said...

The book is excellent, as well. I haven't seen the movie, but it sounds like one I would enjoy.
It's a very sad, sad story, and I admire your brave spirit, going alone to such a film. I assume you were alone, but hope you were not.
Sad movies are hard when life is stormy. One of my earliest memories of getting verklempt while watching a film was crying uncontrollably during the film Camelot when I was about 16. I was in the middle of a very sad, unsanctioned love affair with a guy who was 4 years older than me, my parents had forbidden me to see, and who had given up trying to date me. He ended up proposing to someone else and they got married and had three children.
I saw his sister-in-law the other day, and told her to convey my salutations to him. I'm sure that today he is not the blond, blue-eyed charmer he was in 1966. I'm sure also, that ending up with him would have been a mistake. But in 1966, he was the cool guy with the cool car, and I was a young, dreamy-eyed girl. LOL