Critics didn’t like The Time Traveler’s Wife as a movie, nor do they approve as a 6-part HBO Max series. Notably, the reasons change. In 2009, they thought the film sappy and contrived. Thirteen years later, they speak of “grooming.” Have we, as a society, changed that much in such a short time? Once the thought of grooming is put in your mind, it’s darn near impossible to set it aside. So, let’s do some background. The Time Traveler’s Wife is based on a 2003 novel written by Audrey Niffenegger. Generally, females do not get the tag of “groomers.” In this case, she calls the book “a metaphor for her failed relationships.” Besides winning several awards, the book sold over 2.5 million copies by the date the movie aired.
In truth, I suppose you will see what you want to see. Some will see science fiction. Others will see a love story across the ages. Should you choose the latter, you will also see the accursed time travel and lots of bare male bottom. After all, when Henry travels across time, he arrives naked. When he meets six year old Clare for the first time, he’s behind bushes. He asks her to bring him clothes. Or, as 20 year old Clare puts it, “for fourteen years you were a perfect gentleman.” It all seems rather innocent until someonee mentions “grooming.” Yet, we know she is his “future wife” and she will remain steadfast in her love for him until her death. I give The Time Traveler’s Wife 4.0 Gavels noting that it receives but a 35% Rotten Tomatoes rating and a much better 7.3/10 IMDb score.
Twenty-eight year old Henry doesn’t recognize twenty-year old Clare at the Newberry Library when they “meet for the first time.” Actually, she’s known him since she was six. During those visits, Henry’s age varied from thirty to over forty. Over the years, they talked, played checkers, and conjugated French verbs. He gave her a list of dates he would appear. She looked forward to the visits of her “imaginary friend.” Madly in love with the thirty-four year old Henry, Clare learns that she doesn’t care much for the twenty-eight year old Henry. Memories can be so fickle.
Seen in Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones, Rose Leslie is dynamic as Clare. Then again, so is Everleigh McDonell as young Clare. As one might expect, a six year old has lots of questions. You know him from the first season of Sanditon, now again greet Theo James as Henry. He has plenty of patience for young Clare. Of course, he knows the future. Jason David plays young Henry. It is shocking that children have no fear of adult Henry appearing out of nowhere.
Find the next five episodes of The Time Traveler’s Wife on Sunday nights. Presumably, future episodes will explain more about Henry’s memory lapses, and how he appears in the same place at the same time at different ages. Older Henry must teach young Henry how to “run, to steal, to fight, and to survive.” Arriving naked in a new time brings about a whole set of problems. The future can be scary.
Pro — “Rose Leslie, though, is the beating heart of the series, tenderly conveying the romantic aches and emotional pains of a woman who must always wait for her partner to return, someday.” Screen Anarchy
Con — “The real star of this woeful, pointless television programme is its toxic gender and sexual politics.” RogerEbert.com
Though I loathe the editing required of time travel, through one episode, color me intrigued. I’ll hang around for awhile, but will understand should you choose to look elsewhere.