Five years after closing his stage in ‘Doctor Who’, Steven Moffat approaches the genre of temporal science fiction againwith its paradoxes and others, in ‘The time traveler’s wife’ (The Time Traveler’s Wife), the new series that arrives today at HBO Max.
A new adaptation (we already had one years ago with Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana) of the homonymous novel by Audrey Niffenegger, which recounted the relationship between a woman and her husband, who suffers from a condition that makes him travel through time.
The twist to the premise, and what makes it quite problematic, is that this traveler (played by Theo James) has been visiting his wife (Rose Leslie), intermittently, since she was six years old (with the face of young Everleigh McDonell) and him thirty-something.
A sort of uncomfortable flip side to, to take a look at Moffat’s filmography, the relationship between Matt Smith’s doctor and his companion Amy (Karen Gillen) as of ‘Doctor Who’ season 5 and his temporary cross-relationship with River Song.
The point is that the nature of the relationship between Henry and Clare is clouded by this fact. Something you can get to consider what in the Anglo-Saxon world it is known as groomingthat is, an attitude of connecting emotionally with a minor to end up seducing him.
I don’t know to what extent we can talk about this as “pederesta deception”, but the fact is that all this part of the relationship, which forms the backbone of the series, is tremendously disturbing. It also doesn’t help that one of the first dialogues, when Henry (28) first meets Clare (already 20), who tells him they’ve been seeing each other for 14 years, is sexual in nature.
A garden that Steven Moffat dives into, who embraces this problem but doesn’t know how to present it without making it uncomfortable to watch. It is one of those things that, either you work hard to delve into it, in its edges and the grays that this relationship has, or you have it bad to trace the entire miniseries.
A romantic story without too much force
But beyond whether we can consider the miniseries problematic or not, the biggest problem with ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ lies in a story with hardly any strength with a script that debates between what he wants to tell and how.
And there are plenty of elements to work with: To the eminent presence of the romantic drama is added a certain bloody mystery, exploration of past tragedies and a touch of convoluted time jumps with their own paradoxes and the proclamation of the inevitability of destiny.
However, everything is presented repetitively, giving even more of a feeling that there is a certain laziness when it comes to telling or exploring this relationship between Henry and Clare. And, logically, this reluctance is transferred to the viewer… both those who come for the fantastic element and those who come for the romantic.
Neither Moffat, who has always been quite good when it comes to presenting his series (another thing is that they completely convince us), nor David Nutter they manage to turn the original material into something that really catches. Yes, the miniseries is striking, but the end result is that ‘The time traveler’s wife’ remains as a light hobby in which style prevails over substance.