I finished the book a couple weeks back and enjoyed it quite a bit. I am now worried that they turned this movie into traditional Hollywood romantic tripe. Has anyone seen it yet?
Yes. It's so much worse than you think.
While we were getting ready to play Dungeons & Dragons
on Saturday, Rich asked me what The Time Traveler's Wife
was about. He probably did that because I brought it up, but because I was taking cold medication and have the physiology of a hummingbird, the details are a little hazy. I do know that my lethargic, rambling response touched on a couple plot elements but totally missed the part about explaining why they're any good.
If Rich combined my vague description with a Cliff's Notes summary to produce a screenplay, it couldn't possibly be worse than what they actually filmed. The Time Traveler's Wife
is a textbook example of how to botch a book-to-movie transition, adapting a handful of memorable scenes for the screen without any regard for *why* they were important to the novel. Here's an example from really early on: when present-day Henry brings Clare back to his apartment for the first time, he blindfolds her and makes her count to a thousand while he dashes around collecting dirty dishes and kicking dirty clothes under the bed. He forgets a couple things though, and the next morning Clare finds his girlfriend's lipstick and diaphragm in the medicine cabinet. It sets up a major theme that runs through the entire first act of the book: that in all the years Clare has known and loved and waited for Henry, he was living a normal life with no idea she existed.
That scene appears early in the movie too, minus the significance. It's just something that happens
, in the same sedated fashion that makes every scene feel listless and clumsy. Part of the problem is that Henry's role in Clare's growing up is incredibly minimized. Out of the couple dozen times he visits her between the ages of 5 and 18 in the book, only three made it into the movie and I guarantee you'll be disappointed at the choices.
That's true of the entire script. The most powerful scenes from the book are either absent or so ineptly executed that you'll wish they were. Possibly the worst offender is the wedding scene that could have been shot verbatim straight off the page, but instead is carefully rewritten to avoid any dramatic tension. Gomez is the only secondary character who gets more than a Post-It note worth of dialogue, but rather than the surprisingly poignant role he's supposed to play, he's relegated to Wry Sidekick.
The direction is awful. It's like every single shot was captured on the forty-fifth take, long after the lines had become worn and withered and rolled off the tongue like dried peanut butter. There's absolutely no passion in it at all: no love, no humor, no anger, no fear. A sweeping romance for patients on digitalis.
Do not see The Time Traveler's Wife
in the theater. Do not rent it from the store or waste a slot on your Netflix queue. If you're really curious enough to still want to see the movie, wait until this October when I'm sure you'll find it on the Lifetime Channel in endless rotation with Katharine Heigl's Love Comes Softly
and Denise Richards in I Do (But I Don't).