The Time Traveler’s Wife (Blu-ray)

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Rating: PG-13

Eric Bana as Henry DeTamble
Rachel McAdams as Clare Abshire
Ron Livingston as Gomez
Jane McLean as Charisse
Arliss Howard as Richard DeTamble
Stephen Tobolowsky as Dr. David Kendrick
Philip Craig as Philip Abshire
Fiona Reid as Lucille Abshire
Alex Ferris as Henry at Six
Hailey McCann as Alba at Nine and Ten
Brooklynn Proulx as Clare at Six and Eight
Michelle Nolden as Annette DeTamble

Special Features:
An Unconventional Love Story
The Time Traveler’s Wife: Love Beyond Words

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 107 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

“Lose yourself in timeless love with this gloriously romantic story of the journey of two hearts. Artist Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams of ‘The Notebook’) shares a deep emotional bond with Henry De Tamble (Eric Bana of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’), a handsome librarian who travels involuntarily through time. Knowing they can be separated without warning, Clare and Henry treasure the moments they have together, imbuing them with the yearning and passion of two people imprisoned by time – and set free by love. Based on the #1 bestseller, ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ weaves together destiny and devotion, past and future to turn an extraordinary love into an extraordinary love story.”

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, brief disturbing images, nudity and sexuality.

The Movie:
If you haven’t read the original novel but are aware of the number of readers who cherish it, you might wonder what the big deal is, because the commercials and trailer for this adaptation have done very little to make it look like anything more than another weepy romance ala “Nights in Rodanthe” or “The Notebook” or “The Lake House.” What might surprise the cynics is that this is a fairly serious look at how time travel might work outside of a straight science fiction setting, creating something more in the vein of “The Butterfly Effect” in that it’s the love of a woman driving the time traveler’s journey, despite it being an uncontrollable phenomenon.

We’re introduced to young Henry DeTamble on Christmas as he’s driving with his mother, a deadly car crash triggering the genetic anomaly that sends him hurtling through time to the future and then back again where he encounters his older self. His inability to control the time jumps (and the nude state when he arrives) gets him into all sorts of trouble, forcing him to forever be on the run with no respite. During one of these jumps he meets Rachel McAdams’ Clare, a young co-ed who not only claims to have met him many times when she was much younger and he was older, but also declares her love for him. One thing leads to another as the two get involved and try to find a way to keep Henry from disappearing.

This must have been an incredibly difficult novel to adapt for screenwriter Bruce Rubin and director Robert Schwenke (“Flightplan”), because the way the two characters’ timelines connect and diverge in different ways really keeps the film intriguing, as you’ll try your best to keep track of where you are in each of their stories. One might want to question how this power of Henry’s can be so random and uncontrollable, but it adds to the mystery of the piece. In many ways, “The Time Traveler’s Wife” ventures into similar realms of the fantastical as “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” requiring the viewer to accept Henry’s condition without question.

Rachel McAdams has always had an undeniable presence on screen and she brings out an equally strong performance in Bana, both of them being surprisingly believable playing various ages, although we only really see Henry in the span of roughly 17 years. (The attempt to make Ron Livingston look like he could be in college fails miserably.) Some might find the thought of the middle-aged Henry showing up naked when he encounters the 6-year-old Clare kind of creepy, but it’s not like there are any sort of sexual connotations implied.

There’s no question that Schwentke is a capable director who understands how to tell a potentially confusing story in a surprisingly linear way creating strong dramatic arcs for all the characters, plus instilling a surprising sense of humor like having Canada’s Broken Social Scene performing Joy Divison’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” at the couple’s wedding. Foreshadowing? I think so.

Sure, if you really think about it, there are more than a few time anomalies and other potential plot issues, but not nearly as many as in other attempted cross-time romances like “The Lake House,” and for the most part, this is a thoughtful and thought-provoking drama about what it takes for two people to overcome all the obstacles put in their path of staying together.

The Extras:
Unfortunately the Blu-ray is a bit light on the bonus features. Fortunately, what is here is good. You’ll find “An Unconventional Love Story” which is a ‘making of’ featurette. It discusses the challenges of showing the characters in various time periods, the theme of the seasons running through the story, scenes that are framed the same at different time periods, and more. “The Time Traveler’s Wife: Love Beyond Words” delves more into the book and the adaptation of it into the screenplay. Anyone who read the novel will want to check this out.