Film Review: The Time Traveller's Wife

The Time Traveller’s Wife, a 2009 film based on Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 novel, may be found guilty of too many logical non sequiturs. Directed by Robert Schwentke, the film stars Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. Raking over $19 million on its opening weekend, the project has been a financial if not a critical success.

The story, in my opinion, falls into the genre of science fiction, but is really a surrealistic hybrid of the fantasy and romance. Bana is Eric DeTamble, A Chicago librarian who has a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel randomly. Even after marriage to Clare Abshire, an artist, played by Rachel McAdams, he often disappears from her life for long periods of time.

It would have been better served with a fairy tale happy ending, but the illogical nature of time travel especially as contrived in this story leaves the viewer with puzzling disconnected links. Ok, so he comes back but to what extent can he control when he is travelling outside of the present.

We feel so much sympathy for the time traveller, we are apt to focus on him too much. The story does not justify the title. For despite the visits to the wife as a child, and despite the challenges she faces in the marriage to this unpredictable enigma, the story is not about her.

And though a wife can’t cheat by making love to the same man, there is still a question mark over making love to the older version of the same man. And why does he go back to court the younger Clare? Why does he need to go back and visit her so often?

For what could easily have passed as a hapless tragicomedy the film ends up asking serious questions about medical ethics, biological ethics, even about death. And charms us with the enduring themes of love, marriage, family, and the joys of parenting.

Hard to see a sequel in the making.

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