Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DVD: "Time Traveler's Wife" has less sap than expected

The Time Traveler's Wife (2009) 
107 min., rated PG-13.
Grade: B

First things first, you have to buy into the hokey basic premise of "The Time Traveler's Wife" to enjoy its own magically fanciful romantic-fantasy logic. 

Eric Bana plays Henry, the time traveler of the title who ever since he was a kid could just disappear from his own time, dropping his clothes, and appearing in a another time (naked, John Connor style), whether it be past or future. Rachel McAdams plays Henry's wife, Clare, who met full-grown Henry when she was only 6. When they finally meet as adults, she remembers him, but he can't remember her. That doesn't matter because they fall in love and Clare has to put up with Henry disappearing and reappearing at times in their lives. 

Directed by Robert Schwentke, "The Time Traveler's Wife" is melancholy, wistful, and gauzy, and that's probably the right combination for a film like this. Bruce Joel Rubin's screenplay doesn't really explain Henry's ability beyond stating that it's a genetic disorder he calls “chrono-impairment” not unlike epilepsy, so it's often confusing but doesn't get bogged down in plot. 

This is a sweet (not sappy) and credibly done adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's best-seller that could've potentially been creepy on the screen but is handled with grace and it's sincerely performed. There's a particularly touching moment when Henry “meets” his opera-singing mother, who is supposed to die in a car crash, on a subway. Bana gives an empathetic performance and McAdams, showing off her piercingly gorgeous eyes here, is radiant, and they sell this romance. By the end, we've been invested in Henry and Clare. 

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