IT'S PREDICTABLE that if you've read the book it's difficult to appreciate the movie. Yet even having not read The Time Traveler's Wife, the novel by Audrey Niffenegger, the difficulties director Robert Schwentke had in the task of translating the story's complexities into a film of tolerable length are apparent. There are a lot of interesting, if not terribly intellectual, ideas at play here, and there are palpable whiffs of deeper origins to plotlines that in the film version are forced to languish underdeveloped.

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Niffenegger's premise has been described as a meeting between science fiction and romance, but it's best not to look for many plausible explanations or a love story that isn't tainted by ultra-creepy undercurrents here. Henry (Eric Bana) has a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel along his own lifeline. Clare (Rachel McAdams), as the titular character, is the love of his life, though even more profoundly is he the love of hers. They don't meet in the same "time zone" until they're both in their 20s, and while to Henry that's their actual first meeting, older versions of himself have been visiting Clare since she was five, which is even creepier when you throw in the fact that he isn't able to travel with his clothes on—do not let young girls see this film unless you want them to believe it's possible that strange naked men in the bushes are future husbands blessed with superpowers.

The Time Traveler's Wife deals selectively with the realism of the many problems Henry's condition excites, from having to constantly steal clothing whenever he lands to the multiple miscarriages Clare suffers as a result of his anomalous genes, while blithely ignoring the horrifying implications when they finally do have a "traveler" daughter. In the end there is simply too much to address adequately in The Time Traveler's Wife, but it might inspire enough curiosity with its sincerity to make you want to read the book.

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