Director: Robert Schwentke Release Date: 14/08/09 Link: IMDB Before I say anything I must first ‘fess up to a big reviewing faux pas I committed when I walked into the cinema – my rather cynical expectations followed me. I read the book by Audrey Niffenegger a few months before and loved it, loved it to the point of not wanting to finish the last half of the story because then I wouldn’t be able to read it any more (that’s normal, right?). And as director Robert Schwentke was messing with something I love, I was all set to hate it. But I didn’t, I couldn’t. I would grudgingly go so far to say that I might’ve liked it. Another reason for my low expectations is the fact that, at the moment particularly, it seems any vaguely entertaining book that is released is then automatically ‘Hollywoodised’ (yes, it’s a word!) and made into a mediocre film version. Why are Hollywood’s screenwriters allowed to be so lazy? Some books should just be books. Please. With The Time Traveler’s Wife, however, I do understand the urge Shwentke must have felt to put this on to the big screen – even just for the fact of letting those special effects folk play around with ways of how to show Henry disappear, which, by the way, I was quite pleased with as I’d imagined his face sort of melting away into the air too! Before I get ahead of myself any further, let’s go back to the beginning. The film opens with a young Henry DeTamble on a car journey with his mother. Anxiety sets in straight away as the audience’s attention is drawn to the bittersweet celebrations outside; Christmas lights, a jolly Santa leering towards the window, streets covered in snow...roads covered in ice. As the mother and son sing Christmas carols you pretty much know what’s going to happen, right? Bye bye mummy, hello a suitably traumatic experience that triggers little Henry’s genetic problem, which as you may have guessed is time travelling. He goes back in time to see himself at home with his mother and father, before returning to the crash scene where a middle aged man assures him that everything will be alright, because he is Henry from the future (Eric Bana). There was a palpable sense of the audience wondering what the f- is going on, but it’s ok, you’re supposed to be confused. I think. Next it’s the audience’s turn to time travel as we find ourselves in the future when Henry is grown, and we witness his first meeting with Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams). She initially seems like quite the bunny boiler when, as far as Henry and the audience are concerned, she has only just met him. Her pretty face persuades Henry not to run for the hills and instead go to dinner with her, where it conspires that while Henry has only just met Clare, she has known him since she was six and he was in his thirties and often appeared in a meadow near her house. Weird, huh? The cyclical nature of their relationship is interesting, as neither of them had any choice but to meet and fall in love, because it had already happened. It’s destiny, but with an edge – would Clare have been happier in a life where she wasn’t always waiting around for her absent husband? Fate is a thread that runs throughout the film, as any event that occurs, Henry can revisit hundreds of times but he is never able to change its outcome. He is powerless against the laws of fate, which is an issue that has not really been touched on before. Where time travel has been romanticised in Back to the Future, and used to correct the outcome of events in The Butterfly Effect and Donnie Darko, here Henry has no choice about where and when he travels, and in fact would rather just remain in the present. In terms of casting I thought Bana and McAdams had a great chemistry together and filled the roles well, if they were in the least bit irritating they would lose any sympathy from the audience. The complicated subject matter was handled so that it eventually made sense, and the jumps through time actually flowed quite nicely to make the film very watchable. There were certain characters, such as Dr Kendrick and Charisse, who were mentioned because they are in the book, but do not really fulfil much of a role, and I think a lot more could have been made out of them. The main source of niggling disappointment for me was the ending. While it gave some hope to the audience, it sugar-coated the darker reality that Niffenegger presented in the book. The sinister nature of inevitability is an important aspect of the story, and the need to recognise that fate is not just a romantic force, and I felt that the book’s ending, although heart-breaking, packs a lot more punch than the film. I maintain that no matter how hard film-makers try, they will always be beaten by books. For everything that is good about this film, it is still beaten hands down by the book as the medium simply does not have the capacity to fit everything in. All in all though, it was a lot better than I expected and worth a watch if you like romance with a penchant for the space-time-continuum. Rating: 7/10