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.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 2 Pictures show young Palestinian girl biting Israeli soldier trying to detain boy during West Bank protests
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 4 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
- 5 The 20 toughest job interview questions in the world
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Monty Python-inspired Australian Sam Simmons wins comedy award with 'very silly' show
Game of Thrones season 6: Director promises most exciting premiere yet 'starts off with a bang'
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Online toy marathon to launch new film
Celebrity Big Brother 2015 line-up: The complete list of this year's contestants revealed
Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet: Technician quits after social media row with actor's fans
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn voters most likely to believe 'world is controlled by a secretive elite'