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Time traveling always looks so great, or at least what is revealed in movies. “The Time Machine” offered a view of a very distant future, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” showcased awesome historical events and the little boy in Disney’s “The Navigator” got to fly around on a really cool looking space ship.
“The Time Traveler’s Wife,” however, shows a different side of the coin. It reveals the loneliness of having a gift that no one else possesses and the consequences of drifting through different periods of time.
Henry (Eric Bana) has a peculiar gift. He spontaneously travels in and out of the past, present and future. It’s a gift that Henry cannot control and his time traveling occurs without any warning. Even though he doesn’t travel back to when dinosaurs ruled the Earth or jump into the future where humans live on the Moon, Henry still encounters a lot of dangers. He gets beaten up, suffers from hypothermia and worse.
The one positive thing Henry does encounter on his trips through time is love.
Claire (Rachel McAdams) fell in love with Henry as a little girl. And even though she interacts with Henry at different stages in his life, that love always exists. It transcends time.
If this couples’ timeless love doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, I don’t know what will. McAdams and Bana are so sweet in this movie. It tugs the heartstrings when Henry disappears on his wedding day only to journey back to when Claire was a child. When he informs the young Claire that he is getting married, she becomes jealous even though it is she who becomes his wife.
I loved how Henry’s spontaneous trips to Claire’s childhood and teenage years are always set in the same beautiful, sun-filled meadow, which sharply contracts with the grungey, dark urban areas he pops into when she is not around. It was as if without Claire, Henry’s world dulls.
While I enjoyed the movie’s message about love, I also admired how it handled Henry’s gift. The film reasoned that it was a result of a genetic anomaly but never delved further than that.
I appreciated how the filmmakers left some of the mystery and magic in Henry’s capabilities. To give some elaborate scientific explanation would have ruined all the fun. The movie is bittersweet, definitely not sour. It is a real treat to moviegoers.