The Time Traveler’s Wife (2008)

There have been many time traveling tales. Stories of people wizing through the space-time fold and engaging in crazy hijinks. Usually these plots revolve around epic sci-fi scenarios or fantastic themes. It is rather rare to see one set as a contemporary drama. I think this is what sets apart The Time Traveler’s Wife: it forsakes grand designs in exchange for though-provoking drama.

The plot is simple: a man discovers as a young child that he has the ability to time travel. Problem is he cannot control the ability. So one moment he is standing in his apartment while the next he has jumped past his own death. Throw in temporal paradoxes involving multiple selves and similarly talented offspring and you have a recipe for intrigue. Struggle would obviously be a heavy part of this plot and so it is as the time traveler’s wife finds that her ever absent husband can be difficult to stomach when he is not around. Likewise, the hardship in conceiving a child who survives until birth weights down heavily on them. While they do eventually reach out to a professor who helps the protagonist in controlling his gift, it does not change his ultimate future.

The movie is emotional, but not overly so. I was happy to see that it lacked laden melodramas. There was emotion to be sure but the director-thankfully-did not overdo it in an attempt to convey the depth of the situation. This was a pleasant surprise, since these movies tend to fall on the needlessly romantic side of things, but this is a fact which can be hard to see as some of the actors themselves have a tendency to ham it up and ruin the construction of the movie.

Even so I did not find much at fault with this film. It reminded me of the Curious Case of Benjamin Button in its interesting manner of posing questions of life and happiness. Would time travel make all the wrongs right? What does it mean if one of you can die while another flows beyond your own death? These and many other questions inevitably are raised. Indeed, it is a question regarding love that requires us all to reflect on how we handle our own romantic commitments. Even if such ponderings are but a passing fad, I think if it is only a self-criticism, it is worth taking even as a mental exercise. So that being said, anyone who enjoys thematic material set against love should want to watch such a film. Those who don’t should look elsewhere.

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