Step 1: Don’t expect The Notebook.
Step 2: And try not to fall in love with someone who spontaneously time travels cause it’s gonna suck BIG time. Claire (Rachel McAdams) finds this out the hard way when she falls for Henry (Eric Bana), a handsome man who happens to involuntarily jump around in time. Actually, Claire has known Henry since she was 6-years-old, when older Henry would show up periodically in the meadow behind her house, and has loved him from the beginning. It sucks for him, too, since he loses everything when he “travels,” showing up in the next time zone, alone, no money and in the nude. They eventually get married anyway and try to have a life together. In fact on their wedding day, twenty-something Henry disappears right before the ceremony, but forty-something Henry shows up to take his place. Yeah, this movie really bends the mind, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite succeed in winning the heart.
Step 3: Could blame this on lack of chemistry. While McAdams and Bana are both talented, beautiful people, they aren’t really able to spark much onscreen – not like, say McAdams and Gosling in The Notebook. I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone expects from The Time Traveler’s Wife – I know I did — but the two leads can’t quite pull it off. There are definitely moments when McAdams and Bana connect, but it’s really the characters brought to life that prohibit the romance. I mean, Henry is always half removed from the action, literally and figuratively, which makes it difficult for the usually effervescent Claire to, well, warm up to him – and for the audience to warm up to them as a couple.
Step 4: Could also blame the translation from book to screen. Thing is, Audrey Niffenegger’s best-selling novel IS romantic and grand, written as diary entries from both Claire and Henry. Reading it, you can easily imagine the lovers on the page, adoring each other all along the way as they battle their predicament. But that magic created only by reading a book is somewhat lost onscreen in this instance, despite the well-intention efforts of writer Bruce Joel Rubin (of Ghost fame).
Level of difficult in watching The Time Traveler’s Wife: Moderately easy. It’s just unfortunately one of those cases in which the romance should have just stayed on the page.