Imagine finding your true love at the age of 6 and knowing that you will be in love with this person for the rest of your life. That, is Clare Abshire’s fate in The Time Traveler’s Wife, a romantic drama adapted from the best selling book of the same title by Audrey Niffenegger.
Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams) meets Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) when she is 6 years old in a meadow just behind her home. Henry is a time traveller who skips forwards and backwards throughout time with no ability to control when or where he goes. After he introduces himself to her, he explains to her that he is a time traveller and assures her that he will be back in the near future and persuades her to bring him some of her father’s old clothes for him to wear. It is this fateful encounter that begins the incredible love story of two people both brought together and torn apart by time.
As is generally the case with novel to screen adaptations, this movie, directed by Robert Schwentke, succeeds at creating a beautiful love story that many people can relate to, but fails to fully depict the depth of the struggles Henry and Clare have throughout the story. Perhaps the struggle to successfully translate book pages to screen shots lies in the fact that the book is deeply driven by character development; something any director, screenplay writer and actor would struggle with given the 1 hour and 48 minute running time.
To the film’s credit, we do learn how they met, how they fall in love, and where Henry goes when he travels, all of which is true to the book’s narrative. The characters of Clare and Henry are beautifully acted by Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana and the film’s ability to truly ‘capture’ a moment, translates well for the viewer. The story flows well and considering the complicated nature of the plot, Schwentke did a good job ensuring viewers are not lost in the tiny details.
Unfortunately, the movie lacks depth. It doesn’t allow the viewer to fully experience Henry’s torment at missed Christmas’s, family dinners, and life-changing moments for Clare. We don’t get to fully experience Clare’s heartbreak when Henry leaves her alone, for days at a time, with no indication of when he will return; her joy at falling head over heels for a man who she has seen at various different stages of his life, and her anger at feeling as though she never having had a choice about falling in love with him and as a result living a life that is far from ‘normal’.
So for those who read the book, this movie will disappoint, but only in that it won’t fully satiate your imagination the way the book did. For those who did not read the book, you’ll enjoy this movie. It’s well acted, well directed, well written and truly encapsulates what an everlasting love story should be.