Doing something a little different today because I recently went and saw the new film The Time Traveler's Wife. The film, starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, is based on the novel of the same name by Audrey Niffenegger.
A few summers ago, over the course of three days, I devoured this monster 560-page romance-cum-SF novel, the very first novel of the author and only one to date. Her next novel, a ghost story by the name of Her Fearful Symmetry, is set to be released at the end of September.
The film version of The Time Traveler's Wife just came out, with a mostly starry cast and a bit of fanfare. How does it stack up to the novel that left me with summer reading whiplash?
The Time Traveler's Wife is, in a nutshell, a time travel story and a love story like nothing you've ever seen. It's a classic story of true love with a very large twist. It's incredibly hard to explain -- Every time I try to explain the plot of this novel to someone, I am met with blank stares. Sorry. Basically, my advice is to read the book, then you'll understand.
The movie version of The Time Traveler's Wife manages to remain more faithful than most movie adaptations I have seen. Much is cut, but little is changed and the soul of the story remains intact. The emotional impact is somewhat lessened on the screen, but... well, I still cried.
Reading the book The Time Traveler's Wife, I spent three days spending 40 years (give or take) with the characters, feeling the love between them and living their lives with them. The movie manages to fit the plot into a scant 100 minutes, leaving me feeling rushed and like something was missing. You can't do a massive book like this justice in just an hour and a half.
The acting was wonderful, particularly the adorable child actor portraying Alba. The only time I felt pulled out of the world of the movie was seeing Ron Livingston (of Office Space fame) in the role of Gomez - an important character in the novel, reduced to a face and a name in the movie. All characters who are not Eric Bana or Rachel McAdams get precious little screen time in the movie, because the movie has no room for anything but the main couple's relationship.
Length: Too short. There's a lot to the book that made it such a gripping read, that stuck with me long after I had finished reading it. The film was very enjoyable, and very good, but somewhat forgettable. I don't think people will be talking about it years later.
Grade: 89/100. Scores better than most adaptations of novels. The filmmakers committed no mortal sins. However, it really should have been longer.