Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Time Traveller's Wife

On Friday evening we went to see The Time Traveller's Wife. My wife had read the book, and I'd read half of it - I got half way and she nicked it off me at Cork airport about 3 years ago and I'd never gotten round to read the rest (though I now have).

The film follows the basic thread of the book, Henry DeTamble has a genetic condition that means he spontaneously time travels, with a particular attraction to certain gravitational points - chiefly linked to his eventual wife Clare. It's not a sci-fi but a romantic story, largely about waiting and longing within a history that is already written (no time-changing time travel here, this is not Back to the Future). We see this determinism illustrated in the face of tragedy in the characters and Clare's response to Henry's wedding proposal and the final conclusion of the film.

Comparing the a book and a film is always problematic. The formats are different and a straight copy is rarely going to produce a good film. A lot is cut, including some fairly major characters, leaving a film that still feels a little cramped at 107 minutes but which is perfectly long enough for the story. Somewhere a bit more space would have helped because what's left feels a bit contrived and moulded into the hollywood rom-com genre - hardly giving room to really contemplate the big questions about death and determinism that the film raises..

The ending is slightly different and I think ends up making the opposite point about hope and waiting which has evidently outraged fans of the book, and is a bit disappointing - having not finished the book til after watching the film feels like a win. I don't think the film is as good or as engaging as the book, but that's rarely the case. A decent light Rachel-McAdams-The-Notebook-esque film with hints of substance that are worth pondering further.