This movie was almost there. It just about had everything it needed to be great. In most cases, this would only set a movie back a couple notches, but in a film like The Time Traveler's Wife, all the pieces need to be in order; no matter what order they are in.
The movie opens up with five year old Henry DeTamble, sitting in the backseat of his mother's car. They are singing together when all of a sudden, Henry is involved in a situation that causes him much stress and anxiety. And then, he time travels. Within a second he is back in his living room, in the past. But then another couple of seconds pass, and he is standing back to where he traveled from. He is alone and confused, but a handsome young man named Henry DeTamble arrives to tell him that he is in fact him, from the future, and not to worry. He will be traveling without control for a long time.
Such is Henry's life. Played by Eric Bana, Henry is a quiet, disconcerted man who has grown adept at picking locks and stealing clothes, since wherever he travels to, he ends up naked and disoriented. He is a young man when he meets Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams). She stops dead in the middle of a library, staring at him like she's been waiting her whole life to meet him. Henry has no idea who she is. She informs him that an older version of himself has spent years and years visiting her, and that they have fallen in love.
If you're confused by what I've said, don't worry. The movie is a tangled web of storylines, all connecting and crossing through different points in the protagonists' lives. The rest is a love tale about the difficulties Clare experiences while waiting for Henry, who will time travel without a word.
Or at least, it should have been. My one real grievance with this movie is that it never really shows Clare struggling that much. Sure he disappears at inopportune times, and may break a dish every now and then when he travels while he is holding one, but Clare never really suffers.
Now I would be ok with this if the storyline didn't repeatedly imply that she suffers. If it were not for the outstanding acting by Rachel McAdams, I would have thought Clare was just an annoying and dramatic artist. McAdams really saves this performance and makes the character of Clare truly lovable; something the movie seems to want to contradict.
I'm just going to put this out there. Rachel McAdams might be the most stunningly gorgeous woman that our galaxy has ever experienced. The first time she shows up on screen, you immediately think that Henry would have to be a god damn crazy person not to want this girl. And, as I said, her acting is through the roof. This is one of her best performances, easily. She totally sucks you into her emotions. When she's laughing, you're laughing. When she's being sarcastic, you're rolling your eyes. And when she's crying, you want to cry. Of course you never do, because as I said, the movie doesn't show her suffer enough.
Eric Bana's performance left me torn. I usually love him, and I read the book. DeTamble's character is not as subdued as Bana plays him. However, it works. Henry is a man who is lost, in every sense of the word. His darting eyes and quiet expressions certainly help his cause. The only problem in the end, is that since Clare is so much more lovable than him, the audience has to wonder: can't this beautiful girl do better?
A couple great things about the movie though. For one, Ron Livingston. He is hilarious, and really plays his character with joy. Though he's not the lead, people may leave with the fondest memories of him. Mychael Danna also did a phenomenal job with the score. I know that when I take note of the music during a movie, and by the end I am humming the theme to myself, the composer did something right.
In the end The Time Traveler's Wife is a solid movie. If only it reached a little deeper and got down to the magical level that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button achieved, it could have been an all time great.
Who knows, maybe directer Robert Schwentke can go back in time, and tell this to himself while he is filming.