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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The Time Travelers Wife

Should you go and see films of the books that you absolutely love? Probably not.

To this day I have not seen many films on the principle that there is no way that the film could do justice to the written word. There have been the few rare exceptions (Peter Jackson's Rings Trilogy for example) but these occurences are rare.

This week I found myself with a spare few hours to hand so I ducked into the nearest cinema to watch The Time Travelers Wife. I should have know better but curiosity got the better of me.

For those of you who have not read this brilliant book by Audrey Niffenegger, what I'm about to say will not have any relevance. To those of you that have and who loved it, I say, Do Not Bother.

I wanted to love the movie but I couldn't. Why not? The ingredients were all there. A great story. Interesting themes. Rachel McAdams, one of my favourite actresses. Even Eric Bana in the buff- many, many times. But I remained mostly unengaged.

What failed for me ultimately was that the film reduced the story to this. A woman who becomes resigned to the fact that her husband is wont to disappear into thin air and reappear at random. A man who seems to disappear and reappear at different places and points in time, at random. That is what seemed to drive the tension of the film rather than the intertwining themes of love, transience, control, coincidence and fate that are paramount in the novel.

It did not help that the two actors had zero chemistry and that there was no substantial character development. I had no idea what Eric Bana's character, Henry, felt about his time-travelling predicament except that it was frustrating, inconvienient and cold (as he always reappears naked with no clothes). It also did not help that early on in the film, Eric had a haircut that made him look like a reject from the Monkees.

I loved the book so much that to see it dissected and reassembled so shoddily is disappointing. But then again, why should I be surprised. Is not the phrase A good film adaptation too often just a contradiction in terms?

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