A concept as allegorically hefty as the one at the center of The Time Traveler’s Wife requires a melodramatic, florid treatment; director Robert Schwentke doesn’t pull his punches exactly, but neither does he completely give himself over to excess, or the poetry of fragmentation that might have made this film a more lucid love story. Of course this adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s best seller has a lot of people to please, most of whom aren’t looking for a Resnais-like negotiation of time and memory: the book’s rabid fans, New Line Cinema’s perhaps even more rabid execs, fickle opening-weekend moviegoers. By necessity, The Time Traveler’s Wife—with its mildly brain-scratching premise about a romance between Henry (Eric Bana), afflicted with a strange case of involuntary time travel and Claire (Rachel McAdams), the woman who stands by him steadfast as he disappears and reappears throughout their short life together—could never have been told in a clearly straightforward fashion, but Schwentke and screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin (writer of Ghost, who evidently traffics in love affairs transcending space and gravity—and Deep Impact) manage to make it as linear as possible, skipping forward over years of courting, marriage, childbirth; only the narrative propulsion feels surreal. By design the film should float off into the ether; mostly it stays despairingly grounded.
Click here to read the rest of Michael Koresky’s review of The Time Traveler’s Wife.