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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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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog When we suffer, we don’t just come to understand the pain of Christ’s cross more, we come to understand the depth of God’s love for us: that he would endure such pain for us—in our place. We have a God who endured death so we would never have to do so.

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