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  Publicity Stills of
"The Time Traveller's Wife"
(Courtesy of Warner Bros)

Director: Robert Schwentke
Cast: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston, Jane McLean, Stephen Tobolowsky, Arliss Howard
RunTime: 1 hr 50 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: PG (Some Nudity)
Official Website: http://www.thetimetravelerswife.com/

Opening Day: 3 September 2009


This is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventurous librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap.

Movie Review:

Time travel doesn’t always make sense when you start thinking about its logic. The same too can be said about love- after all, why do we keep searching for something that we know will probably bring us hurt and heartbreak as well? But both time travel and love also have a wildly seductive quality about them; and even though we know that they aren’t always logical, we find ourselves drawn from time to time towards them, attracted by their possibilities.

Audrey Niffenegger’s bestseller “The Time Traveler’s Wife” flirts with both these possibilities in a story that spans some of life’s most significant moments- growing up as a teenager, falling in love for the first time, getting married, having children and finally, death. Bruce Joel Rubin’s (“Ghost, “Stuart Little”) screenplay focuses on the latter three events- the brief romance between Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams) and Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) leading up to their marriage, their subsequent family life and that inevitable conclusion we all anticipate with dread.

Readers of the book will no doubt lament the excision of Clare’s teenage romance with Henry, for it is this period of adolescence and the events within that led to Clare’s deep unwavering love for a man she has not met. Indeed, some viewers may find it strange why Clare has so resolutely, and perhaps foolishly, made up her mind that the guy she meets in the meadow as a young girl is the one.

For the uninitiated, Henry is a time-traveler due to a genetic anomaly known as “chrono-impairment” and his older self travels back in time to tell Clare that they meet, fall in love and get married in the future. It’s no small feat adapting a book that goes backwards and forwards and then backwards again- credit must go to Bruce Joel Rubin and director Robert Schwentke for establishing enough consistency and logic from an essentially fractured narrative.

Where this film truly excels is its fleshing out of some of the book’s most poignant themes. In telling Clare that they will fall in love and get married, has Henry already robbed Clare of her own volition of choosing her life partner? Indeed, are the choices we make really based on our own free will or have they already been predetermined? In our own ways, each of us has come to realize we aren’t always in control of what happens around us- which also begs the question of whether we are better off knowing what’s in store, even if we aren’t able to change one bit of it.

And this becomes even more pertinent when it comes to the subject of love. Is it easier if we know who it is that will be our one true love? Is it better if we know when it is our loved ones have to leave us so we can prepare for that eventuality? Yes, Robert Schwentke’s film gracefully evokes these ambiguities inherent in Audrey Niffenegger’s fantasy tale, ambiguities just as significant and real in our own lives.

Romanticists can however rest easy- these profundities in no way diminish the touching and affecting tale of two people whose relationship is both blessed and cursed by a condition they cannot control or comprehend. Particularly moving to this reviewer is the film’s final scene, which gives new meaning to the eternality of true love, despite the mortality of our beings.

In their respective roles, Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams both shine through their earnest performances. Bana captures nicely the weariness and helplessness of a man who cannot choose where he wants to be- especially when it is with his one true love- and a person whose very presence is transient. The very stunning McAdams is also wonderfully expressive with her beautiful smile and heartbreaking frown, and together Bana and McAdams simply light up the screen.

There is a quote that says “without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities”. Perhaps time travel, or for that matter finding true love, is simply a figment of imagination or the stuff of dreams to some. But “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is a beautiful tale that opens our mind to imagine and dream, for it is in doing so that we are open to the excitement of love’s possibilities. And thanks to a well-crafted movie, as well as some luminous performances, the possibility of both isn’t that far-fetched. The least it will do is dare you to imagine.

Movie Rating:

(If you open your heart, and your mind, you will find this a beautifully told story of love and other possibilities)

Review by Gabriel Chong


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