Tuesday, December 08, 2015

No boundaries for love

There are some novels which simply cannot be made into a film. Adapting Audrey Niffenegger's wonderfully complex novel 'The Time Traveler's Wife' could not have been easy but Robert Schwentke and his team had dished out a considerably tolerable version of the tale. The lifelong romance between Clare and Henry begins at the age of six when Henry experiences the horror of his mother's death and time travels for the first time.

Later we see him approaching Clare when she was a little girl, and introducing himself to her for the first time. The two form an instance bond and in later years she becomes his wife.

Minus point

One of the drawbacks of Schwentke's movie is that a viewer who is not familiar with Niffenegger's original text may take time to pick up the pieces of the plot. There are times when he or she may not understand some of the incidents in the tale at all. Henry's habit of jumping randomly to the past and future is enough to perplex even those who know the story. The fact that he shows up somewhere buck naked out of the blue contributes to the viewer's bafflement and complicates his relationship with Clare.

Another minus point is that the reason for Henry's constant time traveling is not given much screen space in the movie expect for a few chitchat lines about genetics. The latter part of Niffenegger's novel deals with this topic in a wider scale while the film hastily touches upon it and makes more room for the romance between the lead pair. It is also unclear why Henry keeps on being drawn to Clare at different periods of her life.

Good reason

At the same time a good reason is not given on why Henry cannot make use of his ability to save his mother from the automobile accident. There is nothing to suggest that he cannot make use of his gift as he does take advantage of it by winning the lottery to buy Clare their dream home. Such loopholes and absence of logic puzzle the audience and lets Niffenegger's bestseller down.

One of the worst crimes that a director could do to an adaptation is to change its concluding scene. This we have witnessed in movies like 'My Sister's Keeper' which had a less heart-tugging climax than Jodi Picoult's masterpiece. The same has been done to Niffenegger's work.

The scene indicates that Clare did not have to wait long to see Henry for the last time while the book reveals that Clare waited decades, stretching onto her twilight years, to catch one last heart-stopping glimpse of her husband. Such an alteration tones down the emotional impact on the audience.

Soulful stares

Hunky Eric Bana and the lovely Rachel McAdams make a striking pair though they lack chemistry in each other's arms. However their individual acting skills keep the film from falling apart.

They come up winners with their soulful stares and the emotional struggles they undergo during certain circumstances such as Clare in her miscarriages and Henry after getting a vasectomy.

'The Time Traveler's Wife' is about romance in every sense: its enduring qualities and ability to transcend time and space. However just like Bana's Henry, the audience too does not know if they are coming or going in most instances of this adaptation. It needs much improvement to be on par with the elegance of the 2003 novel. Ruwini JAYAWARDANA