Friday, August 07, 2009

Why I'm excited about The Time Traveler's Wife

Normally, the only way I'll get excited about a movie is if it's got Indiana Jones or James Bond in it (I was even remarkably nonplussed about the new Harry Potter movie, which I saw last week.)

But I'll admit that I've got the major quivers for the upcoming release of The Time Traveler's Wife.

This is a movie based off the 2003 novel of the same name, by Audrey Niffenegger - and is one of the most thought-provoking and fascinating books I've ever read.

I actually picked it up in 2005, when I joined radio legends Dina Burgess and Elysa Marsden in their wireless book club, on the late, lamented 107.2 Win FM. It wasn't the sort of book I'd have started reading on my own, but I'm very glad I did.

The Time Traveler's Wife is the story of Clare Abshire, a talented young artist with a uniquely complicated love life. She's married to Henry DeTamble - a man she's literally known 'her whole life.' She first met the grown-up Henry when she was just six-years-old.

This is because Henry has a rare genetic disorder - a type of epilepsy - which hurls him randomly back and forth in time. He can appear anywhere - any when - within his own timeline, with absolutely no control over the process.

So begins Clare and Henry's unique love affair, which sees their 'natural' timelines converge when they're both in their early twenties - but encompasses journeys into the past and future along the way.

Despite having such an unlikely premise, Niffenegger crafted the story perfectly and it was utterly believable from beginning to end. It was, in a broad sense, a typical feminine family saga type of story - but one that had such a unique angle to it (and incorporated time travel) that it appealed strongly even to my more masculine tastes.

It's at times touching and tender, weaving concepts like fate, foreshadowing and destiny into the story, but never hokey or damp. The ending itself, I don't mind admitting, was both beautiful and tragic and I remember my eyes getting extremely damp when I finally wrapped up reading.

So you know that I love the book - but what will the film be like?

To a certain extent, I have trepidation about a big screen adaptation - as I would with any novel I've particularly enjoyed. However, after hearing more details about the casting and crew, I've got high expectations for opening night.

Henry is going to be played by Eric Bana, which seems to fit.

Okay, I'll admit I'd imagined him as being a slightly scruffier, more scholarly figure (yet with an edge, as he'd learned to brawl, steal and survive on his extrachronological escapades.) But Bana's got a certain emotional range that would work well (and, by God, he hasn't had a chance to use it yet, making movies like Star Trek or The Other Boleyn Girl.)

Clare will be played by Rachel McAdams - far too pretty, of course, but she's good in just about everything she does (even if I do think she's utterly interchangeable with Elizabeth Banks.)

It'll be tough to film this book - the date-hopping and aging of the characters is something that strikes me as being incredibly hard to pull off - but I have hope. I just pray Hollywood sticks to the original story. It was truly a lip-quivering romance and any attempt to dilute its impact would utterly spoil it for me.

I guess I'll find out for myself next week. The Time Traveler's Wife is released August 14th.

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