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The Time Traveler's Wife
A rom-com that guys can enjoy.
The Time Traveler
Eric Bana Stars in "The Time Traveler's Wife."
OPENING WEEKEND: $18,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $55,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

June 29th, 2009: The story revolves around a Chicago librarian, who has a genetic disorder that causes him to time-travel when he is under duress. Though his disorder causes him to vanish for long periods, he tries to build a life with the woman he loves. She's a young heiress struggling with the arrangement.

What to Expect: Finally, a movie that's based on a book I've actually read. Yay!

This book was something of a phenomenon. First-time novelist Audrey Niffenegger published it in 2003 in one of those Cinderella-novelist stories that turn other novelists (like myself) simultaneously green with envy and peachy yellow with hope. After being rejected many times, she finally got her novel into a bidding war and took home a hefty advance, and then a few well-placed endorsements (most significantly from Scott Turow and Oprah) turned her book into a runaway bestseller. I was working at a Borders Books & Music when it came out and I heard so much about it, from friends and customers, that when I read it myself I wasn't as enthused as I hoped to be. It's a good book, very creative and affecting, but...I dunno, it didn't give me the OMGAWD it seemed to give everyone else.

Article continues below

Anyway. Before the book was even published, the film rights were optioned by Plan B Entertainment, which is the company that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston founded when they were still married and which Pitt still runs. And here is where we first come across the first of many connections between this film and "The Notebook," in which the man who wrote that film, Jeremy Leven, is hired to produce the first script for "Time-Traveler's Wife." I'm not exactly sure when he wrote the script, before or after he wrote Notebook, but since Notebook came out in 2004, meaning there must have been a script written at least a year previously, probably a lot more than a year, and the Niffenegger novel came out in 2003, I'm guessing that Leven had the Notebook script in the can before he was approached to write "Time-Traveler's Wife."

Regardless, a bevy of A-list directors were interested in turn, including Steven Spielberg, David Fincher and Gus Van Sant. Negotiations with Van Sant fell through, and eventually Plan B hired director Robert Schwentke in 2006. This decision...puzzles me. At the time, Schwentke had really only directed "Flightplan." Smells like a for-hire director to me. And he hasn't done much since, except direct the pilot episode of "Lie to Me." I'm not filled with confidence. This story is complicated and will require a delicate touch.

The novel tells the tale of Clare and Henry. Henry suffers from a genetic condition that makes him time-travel beyond his control, back and forth within his own timeline. When he and Clare meet, he is 28 and has never met her before...but she is 20 and has known him since she was 6. He time-traveled as an adult to her childhood home repeatedly, so she was waiting to meet him when she caught up with his timeline. They marry and struggle through their life together when he disappears at random times and is gone for unpredictable intervals. The book is a definite tearjerker, leading to yet another comparison to "The Notebook." The production apparently agreed, since they case "Notebook" star Rachel McAdams as Clare, and Eric Bana (who's having quite a year) as Henry.

Once Schwentke took over, the Leven script was rewritten by "Ghost" scribe Bruce Joel Rubin, and the film began shooting in 2007, with the original release scheduled for mid-2008.

Sooooo what happened? Here it is 2009 and we haven't seen it yet. Well, what happened was that New Line Cinema went under, and Warner Bros acquired all their films, but since they hadn't made them, they didn't quite know what to do with them. They finally set up distribution for the film but then it was delayed until this summer. At the time no one knew why, but in the meantime McAdams has revealed that some reshoots held things up. Not just the reshoots, but nature...and Bana's hair. In the interim, Bana had shaved his head for his role in "Star Trek" and they had to wait for his hair to grow back before doing the reshoots. In addition, some of the reshoots took place in a meadow, a very significant location for the story, and they needed it to look the same way it looked during the original shoot and so they had to wait for the correct season to roll around. Finally, though, we're finally going to see this film which we first saw stills from about two years ago.

I think they did very well casting this film. McAdams is an appealing actress whose profile is rising fast, and she's proven her track record for heartfelt romance. She's another connection between this film and "The Notebook." She can handle drama and comedy, and has the gravitas needed to carry off the heavy emotions likely to be flying around. Bana is appealing in a way that both men and women like. He's handsome but not too handsome, he's got enough testosterone to keep men interested but enough heart to make women swoon.

I don't know. It's hard to make a call based on the director, there's not much to go on there. Late summer is a great time for dramatic romance, the segment of the audience (men and women both) who are getting a bit fatigued with big summer blockbuster explosions often flock to something less roided-up. This film and this story are also a lot more likely to appeal to men as well as women than the standard rom-com, chick-flick fare. Men will be intrigued by the vaguely sci-fi aspects of the storyline and Bana's screen presence while women will be drawn to the romance and drama and tragedy of the story. I also suspect that once word of the tearjerking but heartfelt ending starts circulating the film will develop strong legs.

As long as it's good. My eternal caveat. It could still be crap.

In Conclusion: A good book doesn't always make a good movie, but this is a very cinematic book that ought to lend itself well to screen adaptation, in the right hands. Whether these are the right hands is kind of a mystery, but the casting is encouraging. The film ought to fill the same niche as "The Notebook," and will likely be a big success if it can keep up strong word of mouth.

Similar Titles: Notebook, Flightplan
August 14th, 2009 (wide)
February 9th, 2010 (DVD)

New Line Cinema

Robert Schwentke

Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston, Jane McLean

Total: 63 vote(s).

Drama, Romance, Science Fiction

Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, brief disturbing images, nudity and sexuality.

107 min





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