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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Time Traveler's Wife


Starring: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams and Ron Livingston
Entertainment in Video
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 08 February 2010

Henry has a problem, he is a man displaced in time, in a real sense a time traveller within the bounds of his own life. Henry's biggest problem with this is that he has no control over when or to where he travels. Clare also has a problem, in that she is in love with Henry and has been since he first appeared to her in a field when she was six - though for Henry, when he first meets her, this hasn’t happened for him...

The Time Travelers Wife (2009 - 1 hr, 43 min, 04 sec) is a love story, directed by Robert Schwenke, from a screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost). The film is an adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s novel.

Having been given the original novel, which I enjoyed immensely, by my wife, I can’t say that I ever thought that a plot so complex and which dealt with difficult questions of human sexuality would have been able to be made into a film. What the makers have done here is to simplify the plot and remove some of the more salacious material, unfortunately in doing so they have removed some of the real poignant moments. This decision was not made lightly and as the director admits in his interview, films are able to tell one type of story, novels another. So, quibbles apart, how does the film stand on its own merits?

The movie stars Eric Bana as Henry, the man with the unfortunate genetic anomaly which means that he does not live his life in a sequential order. Henry first jumps, or in the case of the film, dissolves during a traumatic car accident. His life is then a case of popping up in various places and times, naked, as his clothes don’t travel with him, and having to survive until he pops back to his present.

This has unforeseen consequences, especially for his relationship with Clare. When she first meets him, as an impressionable six year old, Henry is comparatively old and already married to her adult self, but by the time Clare meets the adult Henry he is younger and hasn’t met her yet. This leads to a situation where she is in love with a man, and knows everything about him, before he is even aware of whom she is.

When Henry and Clare’s ages finally coincide they marry, but life is not simple. Henry keeps disappearing and there is no set time for how long he will be gone for. The couple's support come from their friends played by Arliss Howard and Ron Livingstone. Even with the best will in the world you can tell this story will have a tragic ending, of sorts. I’ll not spoil the whole plot by pointing out some of the benefits of time travel even after your death.

I didn’t have to worry about my reservations as even with the changes Rubin and Schwenke have captured the central love story very well. Eric Bana (Henry) and Rachel McAdams (Clare) provide convincing portrayals as the time crossed couple and although my explanation of the plot may seem convoluted the finished film is clear and understandable.

Schwenke has a nice eye for detail and a subtly of touch. I especially liked the vividness of colour which he used when Clare was a child, enough to hint that what we are actually seeing is Clare’s memories of the event.

The disc comes with audio options for either, English 5.1 or 2.0 Dolby Digital with optional subtitles. The print, as you would expect from a modern movie, is clear and free from defects. On the extras front you get The Time Traveler's Wife: Love Beyond Words (21 min, 09 sec) which is a pretty decent small feature with contribution from cast and crew. If you’re a fan of the book and want to know why they made changes then the answer is here. The only other extra is the original theatrical trailer (2 min, 18 sec).

So, a decent film which should please fans of the book and have non fans in tears.


Charles Packer

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