Treated myself to a movie last night - it's hot in my crackerbox and there's nothing on TV. I chose something I've been waiting four years to see, the movie adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE. Even since I read the book (okay, had it read to me by professionals at Audible.com) I've been dying to see how they would streamline such a complicated, difficult narrative.
They made it look easy.
Let's face it, this movie is a conventional romance about two people who love each other very, very much. But a boy-meets-girl story stops being simple when the boy is unable to stop randomly travelling through time. Obviously. For example, he meets her in a library when they're both in their early twenties, but she meets him in a meadow on her family estate when she is 8 and he's around 35.
What Bruce Joel (GHOST) Rubin's screenplay does best is taking this weirdo story element and turning it into a metaphor. Is suddenly disappearing and reappearing two weeks later looking years older due to time travel any different than it would be due to an alcoholic binge? Henry DeTamble is like a lot of bad husbands, well-meaning but at the mercy of his own body chemistry. This metaphor is so effective that last night the audience of around 30 chicks was weeping loudly by the closing credits. I think if I'd been a little further along in recovering from the flu and was willing to put in the effort, I could have gotten lucky in a big way.
So, it's an effective weepie and recommended. I missed a lot of the book in the movie, of course. In my mind I had cast Ed Norton in the lead role, because he's quirkier; but Eric Bana is one of those surprising hunks who actually has talent, and he did just fine. In fact, everyone in the movie was too good-looking (Rachel McAdams is so beautiful that I'm crying now just envisioning her face) but I'm willing to accept that as necessary visual shorthand in a romance. Screen time is precious. You gotta fall in love with these people quick.
Ron Livingston has the thankless part of Gomez, a third wheel who was a character in the novel but somehow barely exists in the movie. Come to think of it, he'd have made a pretty good Henry too.
The movie in my mind was awful, by the way. I had cut everything from Henry's point of view, and I used CGI to age him instead of the more sensible device employed by our cash-starved friends at New Line - Henry himself doesn't age, just his hair. It's long, it's short; it's black, it's grey. Works just fine. So good job New Line - I couldn't have done it better myself. And I NEVER think that.