Henry DeTamble is 28 years old when he meets 20 year old Clare Abshire doing research at the library where Henry is a librarian in the Special Collections. What might be a corny ‘cute meet’ turns into something quite different when Clare tells Henry that she first met him when she was six and he was in his forties.
While most folks might think Clare was a total loon, Henry knows she’s totally serious since he’s been time hopping since he was five years old. Henry suffers from a not yet discovered genetic mutation that causes him to involuntarily jump around time. There is no rhyme or reason to when he goes, where he ends up or how long he’s gone. The only ‘rules’ seem to be that he can’t take anything with him (including clothes) and stress often triggers a disappearance.
Following their odd first meeting, Henry quickly falls for Clare, who has been in love with Henry for years. They marry, buy their first house, etc. But life is far from perfect given that Henry disappears, sometimes gone for as much as two weeks. They quarrel, make up and all the things that couples do. They attempt to have a child, only to have it end in disaster when the baby, having the same mutation, jumps out of the womb. After two attempts, Henry secretly has a vasectomy while pisses Clare off. Despite her anger, Clare comes to the rescue when a younger Henry calls, having jumped into the bitter winter. They make love and Clare ends up pregnant. This time however, things are successful, including Henry jumping ten years into the future and meeting his own daughter who reveals that she’s also a traveler. Alba however can control when she jumps and even when she goes. She accidentally reveals that Henry is dead by that time and later, during a visit back to when she is five, she tells herself and Henry when he dies. That death is the result of a trip back to Clare’s home when Henry is shot by her own father during a deer hunt.
While I didn’t hate this flick, I wasn’t totally satisfied with it. Bana and McAdams were fine in their roles, which were played in a straight forward, matter of fact way. I read the book ages ago and remember a disjointed, frentic pace that echoed the oddness of Henry’s jumps. Unfortunately this pace is missing as are a number of episodes that were cut to simplify the tale. Gomez, played by Ron Livingston, is a flash in the pan character who could have had a bigger part in helping Henry keep it together, which would also lend more emotion to their last encouter. An easy half of the jumps to Clare’s childhood are gone, lessening for me the belief that she’s developed this great friendship and love for Henry. On the 'did it need to be left in' front is a bout of hypothermia that has no real impact in the end. And then there was the opening scene of the accident where an older Henry encounters his five year old self and belches out the whole time travel thing. It felt really odd given that the rest of the movie tended to follow Claire’s side of the tale (not a bad thing in my opinion particularly given the title).
Good, not great.