Romantic films with dramatic “hooks” are ever present in the film genre these days and quite frankly are the leading source for a lot of bad films. Not every script that hinges on this single pivot point can sustain itself for the entire length of the film, but occasionally you’ll get a story that is not only a strong script but also just the right length for it to not feel overlong or tedious in nature. Such is the case with The Time Traveler’s Wife, which starts out as a usual puppy dog love story but also mixes in such an unbelievable amount of drama than it’s hard to profile it as just a purely romantic movie. It’s simple in its structure, but it’s also just an intriguing concept to watch unfold even if all of the marks aren’t always hit.
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 leads in this film are no strangers to the romantic drama category (in fact McAdams may as well be a card carrying member based on The Notebook alone) and although it wasn’t a major sensation at the box office (it pulled in a scant $63 million domestically…but it only cost $39 to make so that’s still plenty of profit), I’ve no doubt it’ll be a top rental for the month of hearts. It’s sure to make more than a few teary eyed and while it may not be the type of film everyone enjoys, it’s hard to deny that it doesn’t have a fairly original concept going for it.
What interested me from the start when first watching this film was how it stared out. It really just threw you into the whole idea of time travel immediately and set up quite a confusingly appropriate atmosphere. Honestly I’m still not sure how Bana character’s genetic disorder worked exactly as whenever it comes close to explaining it, it simply backs off and let some other strange anomaly happen. There’s obviously no control over it, yet later on it’s clear that he has some kind of control…or…I don’t know. It’s really a giant mess in how it works and if you analyze it too much then you just start to confuse yourself. Quite honestly it’s better off if the movie doesn’t explain it; because there is no way it could satisfactorily do so.
There’s also the issue with the daughter that Bana and McAdams have in the film. Since she receives the same genetic disorder as her father she’s able to travel through time as well…only she can control it. She also seems to have a hell of a grip on it when she’s young as she pops in to talk to her younger self on occasion. It’s all very strange in the way its set up and it’d be very easy to paint this film as “stupid” since it never divulges its secrets. I honestly don’t care though—when it comes to mixing genres like sci-fi and romantic drama, I’m not about to push buttons and hope for some literary classic to unfold. This is very basic story structure in every sense of the word, but when you don’t want something that twists and confounds your mind and you just want what is essentially a very happy and sad story all wrapped up in the same package, then you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better on the shelves this Valentine’s Day season.
For whatever reason it was I really enjoyed watching this film. I was ambivalent going in, but it really was a sweet little tale (although the ultimate fate of Bana’s character left me questioning what the point of it all was). A little too adult for younger audiences, but still very accessible to all ages; there’s a bit of humor to lighten up the mood too, as this film can be very melodramatic at times with all of the sad and unhappy faces that it brings to the screen. Still, even if it brings you down a lot of the time it is an ultimately happy film. Recommended.
Warner brings The Time Traveler’s Wife to Blu-ray in a standard Elite two-disc Blu-ray case with the first disc housing the Blu-ray portion and the second being a digital copy of the film. Included is a slipcover (a “normal” one this time—the “custom” embossed style Blu-ray logo slipcovers that Warner was producing for a while is not included on this one, perhaps because it’s a New Line title though, who knows).
The film itself arrives on a single layer Blu-ray, although the VC-1 encoded transfer certainly doesn’t suffer any for it. It’s a very dreamy like looking picture, with warm colors and mood lighting for almost all of the sets used in the film. When it ventures outside it’s often on a cold or snowy night for whatever reason, but daytime shots are almost exclusively full of greenery and summer time visuals. Overall it’s a very enticing picture, but due to its warm nature it’s overly soft on some occasions, although it still boasts plenty of detail otherwise.
For the audio track we get a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and…overkill? Yup. The film is dialogue driven for the most part with very few sound effects venturing out into the surrounds or LFE…although Henry’s random disappearances and subsequent dropping of things does kick the surrounds into motion on more than a few occasions. But overall it’s a very subdued and laid back track—just what you’d expect from a movie like this.
Extras? No, not really. There’s a An Unconventional Love Story making-of style thing which focuses on Bana and McAdams characters and then a Love Beyond Words piece that focuses on the adaptation of the original novel. Both total just under fifty minutes, which is a rather sad supplemental package overall. A commentary definitely would’ve been a welcome addition, but oh well.
Overall worth a Rental. If you’re a bit fan of the romantic dramas then you’ll probably want to add it to your collection, but otherwise a single viewing will probably work for you.
The Time Traveler’s Wife arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on February 9th.