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The Time Traveler’s Wife

Yeah… I know. Look, sometimes you just want to know what happens… and the idealist in you (the one who hearts Rachel McAdams and wants her to be in good movies) allows for that tiny, tiny possibility that maybe, just maybe, this movie won’t be total bulls***.

But then… you’re wrong, of course. And it makes me wonder… what if Eric Bana really could time travel? He’d travel to the time he was about to say yes to this film and he could tell himself: “Mate (cause he’s an Aussie). Don’t do it.” But then, if we follow the logic of the book/film, everything that’s happened already happened, so he’d be doomed to make it anyway. Sad.

Even sadder is the fact that Bana, who I normally think is legit, turns in a performance that makes it seem like he just recently stepped off the set of Melrose Place… the remake. (Is this Ewan McGreggor/Star Wars syndrome? The horror.) However, since I have seen him be not-soapy and actually quite good, I’m inclined to lay the blame elsewhere.

The premise of this film drips with anguish, which isn’t new or bad. Tragedy is an intrinsic part of melodrama (the genre). Some insurmountable problem inevitably reveals itself and widens the necessary divide between stasis and fulfillment. What often transforms a dumb melodramatic premise into a workable film, and what’s missing from this one, is the emotional anchor between the two romantic leads. TTTW certainly attempts to fill this hole, but it’s all facade and construct, and an intentionally distracting and dazzling light show that is the time/space continuum paradox (one of the things that made Back to the Future II worth watching. That, and hoverboards). But you can’t confuse me into liking this, okay.

The central problem is that –and I’m just going by the film here– these may be two of the most boring people who fall in love in the history of cinema. Note to… whoever greenlights this shit: Romantic leads don’t immediately become likable simply because they fall in love. If this couple wasn’t fighting about time travel, or declaring how much they love each other in spite of it, they’d have nothing to say to each other. We are led to believe that this is a story about choosing love… every day. What? Why? I have no idea because I know NOTHING about them. If they didn’t know they were ending up together, would that make a difference? Also… the lottery? Really?

To be fair, this is a problem that is in no way unique to this film, but when you manage to make Rachel McAdams seem wooden and insipid, you deserve an extra special kind of reprimand.


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