[Screen It]

(2009) (Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams) (PG-13)

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Sci-fi/Romance: A Chicago woman tries to cope with the comings and goings of her husband, who has a rare genetic disorder that causes him to involuntarily time travel.
Henry DeTamble (ERIC BANA) discovers at an early age that he has the power to time travel. He narrowly escapes a fiery car crash that claims his mother's (MICHELLE NOLDEN) life and is promptly greeted by his adult self as they watch the crash happen from a distance. Young Henry learns that his condition is a genetic one that he can't control.

During one time-shift as an adult, he is deposited into a bucolic meadow where he meets 6-year-old Clare (BROOKLYNN PROULX), who sees him as a sort of magic man and falls instantly in love. Years later, an adult Clare (RACHEL McADAMS) sees an even younger Henry than the one she first met as a child working in a Chicago library. She decides to tell him of their amazing past together. They fall in love, let a few friends and family members in on Henry's secret (most notably, mutual pal Gomez played by RON LIVINGSTON), and ultimately get married.

The marriage, though, proves hard on Clare. She doesn't know when Henry will be there or when he'll leave. She often spends holidays alone. But her love for him is great, and she wants to have Henry's child. But each time they conceive, Clare miscarries because the fetus carries the same genetic anomaly as Henry.

At the same time, the couple is haunted by a brief episode in which a bloody Henry time-travels into their living room, suffering from a fatal gunshot would. Just as quick as he arrives, he then disappears leaving them shaken and wondering how much time they still have together. Henry fears for Clare's future and his own and subsequently takes drastic steps to protect her.

OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
"The Time Traveler's Wife," based on the best-selling novel by Audrey Niffenegger, will likely go down as one of the more memorable movie romances of the year. Combining elements of "Somewhere in Time" with NBC's late and underrated "Journeyman" TV show, Eric Bana plays a man afflicted with a genetic disorder that causes him to time-travel uncontrollably.

His name is Henry DeTamble, and his first time-jump occurred when he was a child just moments before an 18-wheeler slammed into a car being driven by his mother. Young Henry reappears at a distance from the fatal accident, watching helplessly as the tragedy unfolds. But he is not alone. His older self is there, too, and he comes to learn about his condition.

Henry tries to live life as best as he can. Against his better judgment, he falls in love with a beautiful, young artist named Clare (Rachel McAdams), who discovers his secret at a young age and becomes instantly smitten. Their subsequent marriage, though, is filled with highs and lows. Henry uses his time-traveling powers to get lottery numbers that make them rich.

But his time-travel gene ends up running in the family, making it almost impossible for Clare to conceive a child. At the same time, both husband and wife fear the future after an older Henry briefly time-jumps into their house after being shot in the stomach. He disappears before either can find out the awful questions of when, where, how and who.

"The Time Traveler's Wife" is so much more than just a "time-travel movie." It will actually resonate with any couple dealing with a lifestyle that calls for one or more spouses to become separated for long stretches of time whether it be for work or other reasons. It will also resonate with those couples dealing with an affliction out of the control of doctors and scientists.

Bana and McAdams are a fine match on the big screen. Sure, it may always be hard for some audience members to get past the sizzling chemistry McAdams had with Ryan Gosling in "The Notebook" five years ago. By contrast, Bana over the years has probably had the most chemistry with his rifle in "Black Hawk Down." He's not your first pick for romantic lead.

Here, though, they both strike some really lovely melancholy notes together as the doomed couple. Director Robert Schwentke, meanwhile, teams nicely with "Ghost" scribe Bruce Joel Rubin in crafting a story heavy on fate, destiny and ethereal planes.

Best of all, the film doesn't get too bogged down in the mechanics of time-travel. If you want to go to the film and pick apart the space-time continuum, temporal anomalies, and inter-dimensional paradoxes, I'm sure your colleagues in the basement of the Science Building will be there waiting for you when you get back from the cinema. The movie is really more for those who want to put their brain on pause for a couple of hours and just have a good sob. It rates as a 7 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed August 12, 2009 / Posted August 14, 2009

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