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films and cinemas, under $20

NOT: The Time Traveler’s Wife

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I dithered a bit about whether to give The Time Traveler’s Wife a HOT or NOT. It was a moderately pleasant experience and I didn’t feel like I’d wasted 2 hours of my life, but would I encourage my friends to see it? Probably not – basically because it could have been so much better.

For those who haven’t read Audrey Niffenegger’s betselling book, the story revolves around Henry (Eric Bana), a Chicago librarian who suffers from a rare genetic disorder that makes him travel through time whenever he is under extreme stress. He first meets his wife Clare (Rachel McAdams) when she’s 8 years old, and then again during various intervals of her life.  The story is about their predestined love affair, told mainly through the eyes of the patient Clare, who has to put up with her husband disappearing at inopportune moments.

There are two main aspects that make The Time Traveler’s Wife fail. Firstly, Eric Bana is as stiff and robotic as a cardboard cutout so I was never really convinced by any of Henry’s emotions, including the most important – his adoration for his wife.  Secondly, the arc of the couple’s relationship is rather mundane if you leave out the time-travel part (they meet, they get married, they have a kid, they go through some ups and downs), so the film requires the audience to suspend disbelief  in order be pulled in by the plot”s emotional trajectory. To be honest, I simply didn’t care that much about the characters and the ending left me completely dry-eyed.

The most commendable aspect of the movie was the acting of Rachel McAdams. The poor woman had to act around the Eric Bana totem pole and she gave a heartfelt performance, with her limpid eyes and sweet smile conveying a whole gamut of emotions, from complete joy to shock to distress.

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