The Time Traveller’s Wife

Those of you who have read and loved the book of The Time Traveller’s Wife can be reassured that the movie is not a travesty. It is a respectful adaptation, trimming the book to its main storyline. The two leads are lovely, and I was also impressed with the children who played Claire as a child and Alba, Henry and Claire’s daughter.

Although it captures the romantic core story of the book, it misses the novel’s complexity. We lose the sense of how devastating Henry’s condition is to him – in some ways it is treated almost like a joke or a novelty, not the real curse that it is. Some of the time paradoxes seemed more blatant – I don’t remember if this was something that I just didn’t notice in the book or if some of the changes made things worse. Obviously, the movie also loses the rich layers of intertextuality: art, poetry and music are both essential elements in the novel that are mentioned but not developed in the movie. On the other hand, the faithfulness of the adaptation makes the movie lose some identity or even coherence of its own as a movie; the friend I saw it with commented that those who had not read the book, as we had, might have found it confusing.

I am not sorry I saw it – it was a pleasant way to spend an evening. I did not feel that it was in any way a violation of the book; if anything, it reminded me what a lovely experience reading it had been and made me want to read it again. I’m not sure whether to recommend it to anyone who has NOT read the original, however – you might find the movie confusing and silly, and I would hate it to put you off reading the novel.

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2 Responses

  1. I’m actually very, very happy to see this review, because I rarely ever meet anyone who actually read and absorbed that book the way I did (and by met, I mean the two other people that read it weren’t too impressed. :P).

    I was actually more or less annoyed at the movie, although it was really well done. I whole-heartedly agree with you that they under-played Henry’s condition, but I was also felt a bit remiss that they didn’t really brush on the things that made the book really special to me, like Henry’s fear of cutting his hair, or his emphasis on running. The movie, to me personally, had a bit of a forced-edge to it, like the movie was rushing to it’s own end. It is great novel, and that’s seldom represented through film adaptations as trends go, but all the same what they did was fantastic. Warms my heart to see a fellow fan!

    ~Christopher

  2. Thanks, Chris! I loved the book, but the movie was … meh. I think I like it less the more distant I am from seeing it.

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