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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.
 
- - -
 
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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