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From the Past

Films on the to-do list

  • Armageddon Time
  • Black Widow
  • Chimes at Midnight
  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • Last Christmas
  • Remember Sunday
  • Shazam! 2
  • Thor: Love and Thunder
  • Spy Guys

The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)

Film review: The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009), directed by Robert Schwentke

Based on a 2003 novel by Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife is a romantic drama about a man and a woman who meet, fall in love with one another and get married – but not necessarily in chronological order. Henry (Eric Bana) has a genetic disorder (!) that makes him spontaneously travel through time and space. It first appears when he’s a child and is in a car with his mum, and they’re about to have a crash – suddenly he disintegrates and ends up naked on the roadside, watching the car crash into a lorry.

Ever since then he drifts in and out of time, and every time it happens he ends up butt naked and has to get hold of some clothes. Occasionally he finds himself arrested, but fortunately for him, he tends to disappear before they’ve reached the station. He can’t control when and where he travels, how far he’s away, and he can’t stop it.

One day, he bumps into the beautiful Clare (Rachel McAdams), who recognises him from her childhood and pretty much goes all fangirl over him. It seems that he gravitated toward her somehow, but he has no idea what she’s on about – those meetings happened in her past, but in his future.

They fall in love, they get married, they try to have a life together, which isn’t easy for them, considering he [in]conveniently disappears here and there and can be gone for weeks on end. One minute he’s setting the table for dinner before Christmas, next minute he’s gone, broken crockery on the floor. It’s incredibly frustrating. They try to have a baby, but as it’s a genetic condition, you do the maths.

“I use the same hairdresser as Guy of Gisborne.”
“Yes, I thought it looked familiar.”

It’s a sweet story, heartwarming as well as heartbreaking. It’s also a bit disturbing. Didn’t Clare’s posh parents ever tell her not to talk to strangers? Especially naked strangers hiding in bushes? First time Clare meets Henry is when she’s about six years old or so, when she’s in a field and hears someone calling her from the bushes. He asks for her picnic blanket, as he’s arrived without any clothes. Romantic? Try creepy.

He says he’ll be back, but next time, perhaps she could bring some of her dad’s old clothes? Sure, no problem. And so they meet up at various stages in her childhood and adolescence. She grows to love him, he’s already married to her in the future.

Confusing chronology and creepy (albeit gorgeous) adult men always arriving in the buff to meet with a young girl aside, it stretches the whole suspension of disbelief about as thinly as a coat of paint. We’re seriously supposed to believe there’s a genetic mutation/disorder/whatever that can cause you to disintegrate and end up in another time and place? I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that. Freak accident in science lab or something would’ve actually been more credible than trying to explain it with science. X-Men and Heroes can get away with genetic mutations, but this is just feels off.

However, if you can disregard the botched scientific explanation, gaping plot holes and the creepiness of grown men courting children (I know, it’s very innocent, but hey, that’s how it usually starts), it’s a very cute movie, making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

3 out of 5 childhood traumas.


An easily distracted and over-excited introvert who never learns to go to bed at a reasonable time. Enjoys traveling (when there's not a plague on), and taking photos of European architecture. Cares for cats, good coffee and Boardwalk Empire. A child of her time, she did media studies in school and still can't decide what she wants to be when she grows up.

4 thoughts on “The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)

  1. I recommend the book, even with its improbabilities, the emotion and the characters are beautifully developed. I havent watched the movie because all i heard is that it came out contrite.

  2. Great review. I want to see this movie, but I haven’t read the book. I think I would probably have the same reaction as you did. Did you rate it on IMDb?

  3. @iz4spunk: Thanks, I might just look it up. 🙂

    @phylly3: No, don’t think I’ve rated it there yet. Not sure what I’d give it to be honest. It’s cute, Bana is super-dreamy… and like iz4spunk said, it’s very emotional.

  4. When I watched it I didn’t find it creepy because his visits do look innocent. If a man had the chance to meet his wife when she was a child (he’d meet her as an adult)I don’t think he would see the girl and not think of her as a child, even if he knows she’ll be his wife in the ‘future’.

    I enjoyed the movie, although I’m a little ambiguous about the end.

    OML 🙂

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