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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Time Traveler's Wife

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana star in a scene from the movie "The Time Traveler's Wife."
At its core the enjoyable tale of a lifelong committed relationship, "The Time Traveler's Wife" (Warner Bros.) benefits from persuasive central performances by Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams as a pair of chronologically challenged lovers, turns that successfully divert attention from the story's logical loose ends.
 
But director Robert Schwentke's romantic drama also features some behavior that would clearly be objectionable in a less far-fetched context than that provided by its fantasy premise.
 
Bana plays Chicago rare books librarian Henry DeTamble. Henry is afflicted with a unique genetic disorder that causes him to disappear from the present and travel—involuntarily and randomly—through time. So when he first encounters McAdams' character, artist Clare Abshire, she's a total stranger to him, though—thanks to repeated visits his future self will pay to her past, beginning when she was six—he's already her best friend and one true love.
 
The script, adapted from novelist Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 best-seller by Bruce Joel Rubin—who penned 1990s similarly supernatural "Ghost"—eventually implies that Clare also knows for certain at this point that she and Henry will ultimately wed. If so, the first-date bedroom encounter that she aggressively initiates must be considered premarital relations of a unique kind.
 
Whenever Henry is transported, his clothes stay behind and he appears in the new moment naked. This circumstance not only entails a few scenes of rear nudity, but drives Henry to break into buildings or cars and steal other people's clothing in order to cover himself.
 
A plot development dealing with sterilization seems to imply that it may be wrong in the situation portrayed, but not as a general matter.
 
In addition to his faithful love for Clare, Henry cherishes the memory of his opera singer mother and has a nurturing, though strained, connection with his father (Arliss Howard) whose grief-motivated drinking endangers his career as a violinist.
 
Yet there is no suggestion that either of them had Henry's condition, or knew of anyone perching on a higher branch of the family tree who might have bequeathed it to him.
 
The idea of a 20- or 30-something Henry befriending the childhood version of his future wife -- and kindling her love for him -- will strike some as romantic, others perhaps as creepy. But the dialogue explicitly makes the point that their first kiss comes when Clare is 18.
 
The film contains brief nongraphic premarital sexual activity, rear nudity, a sterilization theme, a few uses of profanity, and some crude and crass language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
 
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Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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