Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about the Crave airing of “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,” the Victorian Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston drama “The Essex Serpent” on Apple TV+, and Crave’s romantic series “The Time Traveler’s Wife.”
When British author H.G. Wells created the term “time machine” way back in 1895, he could never have imagined the lasting impact his ideas of fourth dimension travel would have on the career of Rachel McAdams.
His book, The Time Machine, has been filmed twice for the big screen, but the ideas of shifting ripples of time have also inspired three very different movies starring the London, Ont., born actress.
This weekend she co-stars with Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy in About Time as the present day girlfriend of a 21-year-old who uses his ability to switch time zones to learn information to woo her.
“I know I have a little bit of time travel in my past but this is different,” McAdams says. “The element of time travel thrown in was unique and quirky and dealt with lightly.”
Previously the Mean Girls star appeared as Clare Abshire in The Time Traveler’s Wife, starring opposite Eric Bana playing a Chicago librarian with a genetic disorder known as Chrono-Displacement that causes him to involuntarily travel through time.
From the outset their relationship is a strange one. When they first meet she has known him since she was six years old, but because his syndrome flips him to random times in his life on an ever shifting timeline he is always meeting her for the first time. Confused? Not as confused as Clare, who tries to build a life with Henry even though his ailment keeps them apart.
Based on a best-selling novel, it’s a three-hankie story about love with no boundaries and how romance can transcend everything, even death.
In Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris it’s Owen Wilson who jumps through time — finding himself transported back to 1920s Paris and hanging with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill), seeing Cole Porter sing at a party, drinking with Hemmingway — while McAdams stays put, bringing him back to reality, as his irritating present-day fiancée Inez.
But what about actual time travel? When she was asked by AOL if there was anything she would go back in time and change in real life, McAdams said, “I was a figure skater, so I would take back a lot of fashion choices on the ice. A lot of sequins. I would pull back on the sequins a little bit and maybe less blue eye shadow.”
The Time Traveler’s Wife is part of a rare genre: romantic science fiction. But just because one of the characters flits through time and space doesn’t mean this is like an episode of Star Trek. Nope. The Time Traveler’s Wife is a romance first and sci fi second. Based on a best selling novel the story is equal parts Back to the Future, Benjamin Button and The Notebook. It’s a story about love with no boundaries and how romance can transcend everything, even death. Sounds like a three Kleenex kind of movie, doesn’t it?
Eric Bana is Henry DeTamble, a Chicago librarian with a genetic disorder known as Chrono-Displacement that causes him to involuntarily travel through time. Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams) is an artist. From the outset their relationship is a strange one. When they first meet she has known him since she was six years old, but because his syndrome flips him to random times in his life on an ever shifting timeline he is meeting her for the first time. Confused? Not as confused as Clare who tries to build a life with Henry even though his ailment keep them apart.
Once you get past the twisty-turny time travel story device, I’m sorry to say there isn’t much left. The Time Traveler’s Wife is at its core a very old fashioned romance about the enduring qualities of true love tarted up with a sci fi twist that only serves to muddle the story. (On film at least, I haven’t read the book.) It’s theme of love conquering all is well played out, but the flat performance from leading man Eric Bana casts a pall over the whole movie.
Bana has been in my bad books for some time now, although he redeemed himself recently with a star turn as the bad guy in Star Trek. Unfortunately The Time Traveler’s Wife was shot before Star Trek gave him a boost on the old charisma meter. His work here is understated to the point of indifference. Henry should be one of the wonders of the world, a man who can jump from year to year, but instead is played as a mope; a sad sack crippled by his remarkable ability.
Rachel McAdams, on the other hand, underplays the role of Clare, but instead of disappearing into the fabric of the film as Bana does, brings subtlety and grace to the character. When she tells her friend about Henry’s condition, adding, with rueful understatement, “It’s a problem,” she shows us a vulnerable side to Clare, the side that realizes her life will never be normal, but also the side that knows she is powerless to change her situation. It’s a nice, quiet performance that conveys the power of her love for Henry and the frustration of the predetermination of her fate.
But it takes two to tango and unfortunately no matter how lovely McAdams’s performance is, she’s twirling around an empty dance floor. The themes from the book are firmly in place but there is no real spark between the actors.