Combining elements of sweepingly romantic time travel movies like Somewhere In Time and the supernatural swoon of Ghost, this first-rate and spellbinding drama is out to prove true love can overcome any obstacle—in this world or the next. With the well-cast Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams as a couple caught up in differing time (and erogenous) zones, the late summer New Line/Warner Bros. production could prove to be a must-see for a willing female audience and provide a nice bounty and a perfect counterpoint for August fanboy flicks like G.I. Joe and District 9.
The oddball concept takes a little while to warm up to but once you’re on board it’s smooth sailing. Clare (McAdams) has been in love with Henry (Bana) since she was a little girl and knows in her heart they’re soul mates, even if they cannot control their frequent separations. It seems Henry, a time traveler, suffers from a rare affliction that causes him to move back and forth on an ever-shifting timeline he can’t contain. This of course causes endless frustration over the ensuing decades as the pair try to forge a relationship that is anything but normal.
Scripted by Bruce Joel Rubin from a best-selling novel by Audrey Niffenegger, Time Traveler’s Wife is a classic romantic tale with a nifty twist on the time honored, star-crossed lover template. Wisely Rubin, who won an Oscar for his Ghost original screenplay, keeps the details of Niffenegger’s story intact but simplifies the premise just enough to make it palatable and coherent for movie audiences. Skipping freely through the lives of its key characters, director Robert Schwentke focuses on the emotional arc of the tale and keeps us guessing where the action is heading, a nice device but one requiring complete concentration from its audience.
McAdams and Bana are the perfect pairing, and fortunately both have the ability to make you believe in them by playing it as a straight love story. Although it’s their film, nice supporting work comes Ron Livingston as Clare’s best friend, Jane McLean as his wife, Stephen Tobolowsky as a helpful geneticist and Arliss Howard as Henry’s father.
Handsomely produced, the film was shot mostly in Toronto even though the action is set in Chicago. Production values are first rate with Henry’s appearances and disappearances credibly and seamlessly woven into the proceedings without looking dopey or gimmicky.
Hoping to strike the same sort of box office gold they mined with The Notebook, New Line has something special this summer with a unique love story that proves to be a step above your usual chick flick.
Cast: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Arliss Howard, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jane McLean, Ron Livingston, Brooklynn Proulx and Alex Ferris
Director: Robert Schwentke
Screenwriter: Bruce Joel Rubin
Producers: Dede Gardner and Nick Wechsler
Rating: PG13 for thematic elements, brief disturbing images, nudity and sexuality.
Running time: 107 min.
Release date: August 14, 2009