“Time Traveler’s Wife” caught in Hollywood ether

Wooden acting, stilted dialogue and an awful screenplay keep this film lackluster.

by Kara Nesvig

âÄúThe Time TravelerâÄôs WifeâÄù STARRING: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams RATED: PG-13 PLAYING AT: Area theaters This bastardization of beloved bestsellers has got to stop, Hollywood. In the golden days of cinema, you complimented books like âÄúGone with the WindâÄù and âÄúRebeccaâÄù with pitch-perfect film counterparts. But things have gone way, way downhill since the death of the attention span and the advent of CGI. And when you fudge a 560-page opus well-loved by its readers like âÄúThe Time TravelerâÄôs Wife,âÄù you canâÄôt expect good things to come. Audrey NiffeneggerâÄôs book about Henry DeTamble, the time-traveling Egon Schiele of a librarian and his redheaded artist wife Clare , has been turned into a big-budget, B-list summer romance starring actors who look nothing like their novel descriptions. Rachel McAdams is a bona fide decent actress, but Eric Bana? Not so much. He was a poor portrayal of King Henry VIII in âÄúThe Other Boleyn GirlâÄù and he doesnâÄôt put forth a more convincing face as Henry DeTamble, either. Maybe Hollywood likes to cast him in roles heâÄôs totally wrong for, like a redheaded king or the Hulk . Henry should have been more angular, perhaps an Adrien Brody type. AdamâÄôs brunette hair does not convey the long red tresses of Clare, which are a pivotal part of her character; sheâÄôs described in print as a âÄúBotticelli.âÄù ThereâÄôs no chemistry, no undying passion between Bana and McAdams, and the dialogue theyâÄôre given is stilted and cringe-worthy, almost akin to the lovey bits in a âÄúStar WarsâÄù chapter. Anyone over the age of 15 canâÄôt help but snark at whatâÄôs supposed to be touching. Could an indie studio have done better justice? ItâÄôs possible, though in all honesty the complexities of the book would have presented problems for any adaptation. The novel version of âÄúThe Time TravelerâÄôs WifeâÄù was the kind of tome that sweeps its reader up with skillful prose, and its film counterpart lacks the raw emotion clearly visible in each chapter of the novel. Because itâÄôs a film adaptation in an era where audiences donâÄôt have the patience for four-hour films like âÄúGone with the Wind,âÄù there are hugely important chunks of plot missing, chunks that would have lent a more fully-realized sense of cause and effect. Whereas book Clare was passive, a Penelope of sorts waiting for her time-traveling Odysseus, movie Clare has been given a semi-backbone, but all she comes off as is a shrew. BanaâÄôs Henry is wooden, falsely pensive. You canâÄôt feel for them because theyâÄôre irritating cardboard cutouts of the more flesh-and-blood characters Niffenegger created. Broken Social Scene makes a cameo covering Joy DivisionâÄôs âÄúLove Will Tear Us Apart,âÄù and the set design is ELLE Décor-worthy, but thatâÄôs all thatâÄôs redeeming about âÄúThe Time TravelerâÄôs Wife.âÄù ItâÄôs a shell of a romance, empty of the poetry that made the book such a testament to love that triumphs even time.