Urban Cinefile
"Never tell a story because it's true: tell it because it's a good story."  -John Pentland Mahaffy
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Clare (Rachel McAdams) has been in love with Henry (Eric Bana) her entire life. She believes they are destined to be together, even though she never knows when they will be separated: Henry is a time traveller—cursed with a rare genetic anomaly that causes him to live his life on a shifting timeline, skipping back and forth through his lifespan with no control. Despite the fact that Henry’s travels force them apart with no warning, Clare desperately tries to build a life with her one true love.

Review by Louise Keller:
Destiny and eternal love are the themes of this beguiling love story in which time is the compass by which two lovers navigate. It’s a complex and often confusing story as the two key characters weave in and out of different time zones, but somehow it works … no doubt due to terrific performances by Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. Bana is very good and McAdams is lovely on screen; so vulnerable and real, never allowing her beauty to distance her from us. However, I can imagine the story would work more effectively in its original print form in Audrey Niffenegger’s novel. Words have a way of painting improbabilities and thoughts in a different way to cinema, allowing our imaginations to guide our subconscious.

There’s an attention-grabbing wintry opening sequence to whet our appetite before the real narrative starts. It is the beginning of spring when Rachel McAdams’ Clare comes to the library where Eric Bana’s librarian researcher Henry is working. With moist eyes, Clare delivers an irresistible dinner invitation. But the love story between Clare and Henry begins years before that moment, when a little girl with long titian hair runs across a green meadow carrying a red picnic blanket. The blanket comes in handy, because there’s a naked man in the bushes.

When you break down the elements and describe how Bana’s Henry disintegrates when he least expects it and time travels to specific dates, leaving a pile of clothes on the ground behind him, it sounds more ridiculous in print than it does on screen. (Admittedly, the only time no clothes don’t seem to matter is when he comes back on his wedding night.) Director Robert Schwentke creates an intriguing reality that is solidly grounded by characters that we embrace and genuinely care about.

I was fascinated when Henry describes how he feels at the moment he travels in time: a sense of dislocation, tingling. Sheds new light on those days sitting at my desk day dreaming …. But I digress. Oscar winning screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost), who also wrote the story for the controversial 1983 film Brainstorm (starring Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood in her final role), has crafted a story that plays out on several levels. There are the emotional highs and lows that transcend the different time frames. But there are a few problems including why Henry always more or less looks the same age (a few grey hairs are the only indication that 20 years have passed). Brooklynn Proulx is impressive as Clare as a 6 year old and I also like Ron Livingston as Henry’s cynical friend Gomez and Philip Craig as Clare’s Republican dad who loves hunting.

The story raises impossible questions. What does the future hold? What about a baby? Is death on the cards? There are many endings and beginnings throughout this intriguing film and McAdams and Bana make us care about all of them.

Email this article

Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(US, 2009)

CAST: Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Michelle Nolden, Alex Ferris

PRODUCER: Dede Gardner, Nick Wechsler

DIRECTOR: Robert Schwentke

SCRIPT: Bruce Joel Rubin (novel by Audrey Niffenegger)


EDITOR: Thom Noble

MUSIC: Mychael Danna


RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 5, 2009

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020