Friday, September 4, 2009

Time's a bandit for this lovesick couple

"The Time Traveler's Wife"
Two-and-a-half stars

By Joe Maniscalco

From H.G. Wells to Dr. Who, popular media has largely portrayed time traveling as a proactive adventure practiced by courageous individuals on a mission - even if one’s grip on the controls is tenuous at best.

Now, however, director Robert Schwentke has introduced a new wrinkle in the fabled space-time continuum -- time traveling as a disorder. Eric Bana’s character in “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” based on the 2003 best-selling novel by Audrey Niffenegger, is no steely-eyed adventurer saddled with an immense intellect and killer case of wanderlust. Nope, Henry DeTamble is just some poor ‘ol shlub who inexplicably starts to evaporate following a deadly car accident that tragically claims the life of his talented young mother.

He doesn’t know why he suddenly starts winking out at inopportune times, leaving nothing behind but an empty pile of some very useful clothing -- it just happens. Henry’s “chrono displacement disorder” forces him to scramble for a fresh set of duds each time he re-appears - stark naked - in either the past or the future.

Forget the anxiety of having to repeatedly act out your worst Freudian nightmare over and over again, though. Henry manages just fine for a long while, becoming expert in sartorial detection and breaking and entering. He even meets a girl.

That’s where the love story comes in -- and ladies, if you think you’ve ever had trouble keeping tabs on your man, you ain’t never had to deal with the kind of stuff Rachel McAdams’s character is forced to endure.

First meeting Henry as a child, Clare Abshire spends the rest of her life in the slip stream of time lovestruck and lovelorn, never knowing for sure when her darling beau will show up again or how long he’ll stay.

Not having read the book, I’m not sure how the author handled such a scenario packed with so much provocative possibility, but the movie surely only scratches the surface.

For many, this cursory brush with the sequentially-starved lovers will be enough to satisfy, but others will probably wish there actually was some kinda time machine lying around that the couple could have hopped into to straighten out this whole mess.

“The Time Traveler’s Wife.” Directed by Robert Schwentke. Starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. Rated PG-13. Runtime 1 hour, 48 minutes.


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