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Movie Review of The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife: Doesn't Fulfill Its Destiny

What makes the book The Time Traveler's Wife so magical is how well it marries two genres: romance and sci-fi. But the big-screen adaptation leans more toward old-fashioned Hollywood love story, with the attendant schmaltz and a touch of slapstick.

Fans of the cherished book — myself included — had many hopes and fears about the film. Although the movie didn't make me swoon, it is satisfying to see the story on screen, and the movie is very sweet in parts. Still, what should be an epic tale and a first-rate tearjerker sadly let me down.

The Time Traveler's Wife unravels the story of Henry, who possesses a genetic defect that causes him to get displaced in time. His wife Clare first meets Henry when she is 6 and he is visiting from a future in which the two are married. Since Henry cannot control when or where he turns up, their love is inherently fated: Clare grows up knowing they will marry, yet when they meet in real time, Henry doesn't know who she is, since he hasn't yet visited Clare's childhood self. So who chooses who? This question lends a graceful mystery and intensity unmatched by most love stories.


As a book, The Time Traveler's Wife pulls off an amazing trick. Though its narrative jumps around, it builds tension as well as or even better than a traditional story arc. We know some of the eventual outcome, but not all of it, as secrets are revealed along the way.

But in its condensing of the couple's early years, the movie loses much of that magic. It reveals too many of the surprising plot points early on and rushes through the blossoming of Clare and Henry's relationship, so it's difficult to believe how deeply this couple is supposed to be in love. Instead, we get a lot of schmoopiness, as both actors do their best to build a believable relationship on the story's weak foundation. The somewhat hokey special effects and weepy musical score don't help, either.

When I noticed Broken Social Scene in a cameo, playing the wedding band at Henry and Clare's wedding, it hit me: this movie isn't edgy enough. It strips away most of the darker elements of the book and loses some of the sci-fi trippy-ness. The story would benefit more from an adaptation in the style of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with its dark quirks and touching truths about love. Sure, time travel is a fantasy, but The Time Traveler's Wife aches for more reality.

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

Join The Conversation
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 7 years
I thought this movie was great. I think it could've been a little better if it was more like Eternal Sunshine (like Buzz mentioned), and also if they included more of the early days of Henry and Clare's relationship because the movie seemed a bit rushed. Overall, though, I enjoyed the movie and cried my eyes out at the end. I also have to add that I thought Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams were fantastic in their roles.
nessa17 nessa17 7 years
I just watched the movie and loved it. It was a pretty good adaption of the book. Parts I would have like to see was Henry visting Clare more in the past but everything came together nicely at the end. They were all very convincing in their parts especially Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. Overall it was a great movie and didn't disappoint. I teared up a bit at some parts as well.
reesiecup reesiecup 7 years
The movie definitely had some flaws, but overall, it was a good attempt at retelling this story on screen in 2 hours. IMO, I wouldn't have minded if the move was of LOTR proportions b/c I felt the book was so detailed...everything came together nicely. I appreciated some of the story lines that were cut out, but I do agree that Claire and Henry's relationship proceeded too quickly. We sort of missed out on getting to know the characters and watching them fall in love at parallel times. I missed Kimy and Henry schooling his younger self, the duct tape scene, etc. Bana and McAdams were perfect. And I wasn't quite prepared for all the booty throughout the movie. lol. I thought the last scene was appropriate...left out a key part, but I see what they were getting at. None of the friends I went with read the book, but they all enjoyed the movie. I enjoyed it...I think it's worth watching if you're a fan of the book. Much better than Twilight's adaptation, but I'll still be watching the remaining movies!
omgosh-dee omgosh-dee 7 years
I just got home from watching the movie as well, it definitely did not live up to the book. Even though I haven't read it in a few years, and barely remember the specifics, I do remember loving everything about the book. I didn't even think the chemistry between Clare and Henry were up to par. But I'm not overly disappointed because I knew this would happen anyways.
Nyrina-Windu Nyrina-Windu 7 years
I'll check it out and decide for myself. But I hope it's not as bad as reported.
beckkii beckkii 7 years
haven't read the book but i really want to watch this, sounds really good.
SaRaH-22 SaRaH-22 7 years
glad its not just me Girrly
Girrly007 Girrly007 7 years
I had a hard time getting into the book and put it down at first. I saw the movie preview, and fell in love. I picked the book back up again, finished it... and hated it. I'm so mad about the book, and the movie got such mediocre reviews, I'm leaving this for a rental. P.S. SaRaH, I'm TOTALLY still bitter about MSK. And Twilight.
SaRaH-22 SaRaH-22 7 years
Atleast it doesnt say they totally changed the whole point of the movie ( like My sisters Keeper...and yes I am still bitter)
LeJa LeJa 7 years
I am excited to see it, but my expectations are set kinda low since the book was so good. I do not know if the movie will be able to compare to the book.
piper23 piper23 7 years
Everytime I see a movie adapted from a book I've read, I pick the movie apart looking for inconsistencies and end up not enjoying the movie for that reason. I haven't read this book and I won't until after I watch the movie. More enjoyable that way.
suziryder suziryder 7 years
Ugh, disappointing, but I still want to see it. It looks so PRETTY. I haven't read Time Traveller's Wife in years, so maybe it'll be ok because I won't really have much to compare it to (Iiiii really don't remember much about the book). I've been wanting to reread the book for a while now, so maybe I will - after I see the movie. :)
Sarana Sarana 7 years
I still want to see it, hope it comes here soon.
soulight soulight 7 years
I want to watch this movie because of Rachel McAdams. I also want to like this movie so I decided not to read the book before watching the movie. My bf gave me that tip when he noticed how severely disappointed I was reading both Twilight and My Sister's Keeper before watching those movies, when I saw that a lot of the magic in the book was missing from the movie. Maybe after I see the movie I'll dive into the book.
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