Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Time Traveler's Wife - film adaptation

I’ve heard conflicting opinions of the film adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife, from ‘it’s ok’ to ‘terrible’, and a variety of more in-depth thoughts in between. I have to say (apparently controversially) that I actually got quite caught up in the film, although I also agree with a friend who said that it lacks the depth of the book. Some of that can be excused as simply having to compress material into the timeframe available, but to me it also felt rather sanitised.

SPOILERS AHEAD – if you haven’t read the book and don’t want important plot points revealed, stop reading this now. And go and read the book.

For those of you still with me, some of the exclusions that bothered me most were:
1) Kimy – she kind of stepped into the space left by Henry’s mother in the book, and without her his childhood background is pretty much a blank. Same with the rest of the characters really, there isn’t much background for anyone in the film.

2) Ingrid – her troublesome presence at the start of Henry and Clare’s real-time romance gives the book a sense of reality and messiness. Without her to show the negative impact of Clare’s appearance in his life, it all feels a little convenient and fairy-tale-ish.

3) Clare and Gomez’s attraction - again, without this, it’s too clean and convenient.

4) Henry’s feet - or rather, the lack of them was lacking. I guess the amputation could have been a little gory for translation to the screen, but they had no problem showing the bullet wound, and there was no need to show the feet in graphic detail. I found his amputation one of the most surprising and significant turning points in the novel, so the film really lost something for me by backing out on this one.

5) Henry and Clare’s final meeting – for me, knowing that neither would meet the other again until the very end of Clare’s life gave the finish an extra poignancy. The film left it with the hopeful feeling that Henry might pop in at random to see them at any time, which again feels like a bit of a cop-out.

Finally, not really an omission, but the focus of the film had changed to Henry, rather than Clare, who as the titular character, really should have stayed the main focus, in my view. I know that awareness is changing towards allowing female characters more screentime now, etc, and that if one character has some kind of ‘superpower’ type ability it guarantees they’re more interesting as far as Hollywood is concerned, but it seems a shame. The book really left you with the impression of a strong, loving relationship struggling against massive odds, whereas the film felt more like the biography of a guy who just happens to time travel.

That said, I enjoyed watching it, and admittedly it did make me cry like a little girl at the end.

What do you think? Do you disagree with any of the impressions above? Are there any other changes you liked or disliked? Leave a comment below!

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