The Time Traveler's Wife (12A)
Don't waste your time
Friday 14 August 2009
Those who enjoyed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button may like to turn next to The Time Traveler's Wife.
Both appeal to a taste for star-crossed, quasi-profound romance, and both dabble in kinks on the space-time continuum. Both, I should add, are the silliest mush imaginable. Perhaps the gazillion-selling novel by Audrey Niffenegger, on which it is based, had something more to recommend it, though I do wonder. If the sum of Benjamin Button's thinking was, "Isn't it sad that people get old?", then Time Traveler's is "Isn't it sad that people die?"
The set-up is briefly told. Clare (Rachel McAdams) has been in love with Henry (Eric Bana) since she was a little girl, though their encounters with one another have been sporadic, for Henry suffers from a rare (actually, non-existent) genetic disorder that causes him suddenly to slip back and forth through time. So he might be shaving one moment, and disappearing into thin air the next, waking up in another time zone, completely naked. That could be funny, or even creepy, particularly when he lands up in the bushes near a meadow where the six-year-old Clare is playing. But the film is too earnest and po-faced to see the comedy value in the idea, and Bana himself, despite a background in stand-up, is toweringly humourless on screen.
What's surprising about this is how little "time" is actually travelled. Henry doesn't go back and experience interesting stuff like the Civil War, or the Depression. There seems to be no point to why he disappears at all, aside from a device to keep him and Clare apart. Having established its outlandish sci-fi premise, the story does absolutely nothing with it (just as Benjamin Button did nothing with its reverse-ageing anomaly). This proves to be as true of the present as it is of the past. We see Henry disappear at unexpected moments, but they're never so unexpected as to be dangerous, or dramatic. Say he'd been driving his wife to hospital, or babysitting his daughter for the evening – what if he'd done his vanishing act then? But no, the story always allows him a poignantly graceful exit, the proof he stood there lying in a pile of his discarded clothes. Cast a decent comedian in the part and this might have been a hoot. Instead they've tried to cloak a very dull love story in pseudo-poetic significance. You might feel like disappearing yourself.
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
- 2 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 3 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 4 How to gain confidence and maximise your sexual potential
- 5 Chinese theme park sets up 'death simulator' where volunteers can experience being cremated
Penny Dreadful, series 2 episode 1, review: It is still gloriously silly
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
Eurovision 2015: What date and time is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
How the Other Half Eat, Channel 4 - TV review: Swapping food trolleys shows how food and class are closely connected
Noel Gallagher 'cannot wait' to hear Oasis-inspired One Direction album but rants about 'pointless' Tidal and Spotify
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'