Review of “The Time Traveler’s Wife”: taking the plunge, again


It’s still “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” though, and you can’t get away from the material, a staid mix of sentimentality, doom fatalism, truisms about love, and sexually sexualized romance that sold to several million copies. Niffenegger’s gift for gendered fantasy melodrama drew a ton of readers, including Moffat, who based an episode of “Doctor Who” (“The Girl in the Fireplace”) on the novel.

Given the chance to adapt the real thing, Moffat and director David Nutter (“Game of Thrones”) made it watchable – favoring soap opera humor and action – but they failed to evoke emotion or to dramatize ideas. , which so many people seem to find in the story. A breakaway device for older versions of Henry and Clare to speak directly to the camera, as if being filmed for a documentary, echoes the book’s alternate first-person narration, but also exposes the script’s notions of kindred spirits, absence and fate for the boring platitudes that they are.

However, it’s easy enough to sit in when delivered by performers as lovably earnest and attractive as Rose Leslie and Theo James, who play Clare and Henry as adults. Younger versions of Clare are charmingly played by Everleigh McDonell and Caitlin Shorey. This is where the sickening part comes in: the central conceit of the story that the lovers meet when Clare is 6 and a grown Henry falls naked on his family’s estate. They continue to have private and increasingly intense encounters throughout her childhood and adolescence.

The idea is that because Henry will be married to Clare in the future before he met her as a child, there’s a purity to their “little girl hanging out with a guy in his thirties” encounters. Again, that’s pretty easy to accept on the show, partly because James has an innate courtesy and partly because Nutter stages their encounters in a slightly elevated fairytale style.

These pastoral interludes are respites from Henry’s other time travels, which may involve landing on subway tracks or easily angered motorcycle club members. This other side of the story, in which time travel is a curse and Henry is in constant danger of being beaten up, arrested or killed, gives all its energy to the series.


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