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The Time Traveler's Wife by Mychael Danna

The Time Traveler's Wife

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The Time Traveler's Wife (Soundtrack) by Mychael Danna

The Time Traveler's Wife
Composed by Mychael Danna
New Line Records (2009)

Rating: 8/10

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“Through his well-crafted score, MYCHAEL DANNA helps you to feel this destined love, while simultaneously making you ponder on this exotic dilemma these lovers are in.”

Love and Back Again
Review by Christopher Coleman

Romantic films that are box-office hits are pretty rare, although dozens upon dozens of them are released every year. For everY TITANIC, NOTEBOOK or ATONEMENT there are countless others that, while managing to draw many-a-female tear, don't draw equal numbers of dollars. On the other side of the ticket-stub, there have been even fewer films about time travel that turned into box office bonanzas. In fact, I cannot think of even one. So what an intriguing idea. Let's combine these two maddening concepts into a single film. That daring experiment comes in the form of THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE based on Audrey Neffinegger's hit 2003 book of the same title. Director Robert Schwentke did well to arm himself with Eric Bana (didn't he learn his lesson in Star Trek that time travel isn't a good idea?) and Rachel McAdams as the lead actors and screenwriter Joel Rubin, who won an Oscar for his screenplay for GHOST. Still, the potential cosmic backlash in combining such deep issues of the mind (or science) with those of the heart could be more than a bit devastating to all involved...including audiences.

As opposed to his vengeful mission in Star Trek earlier this year, this time a genetic defect keeps Mr. Bana time-hoping in and out of the life of his future, current, and past wife. While the notion of meeting your, full-grown, future husband while you are still an adolescent be romantic, the repercussions of having a disappearing husband are numerous...and would seem to be clear. Of course, that's where the heart closes it's eyes and dives head long anyway. I had vainly hoped that there would be some balance to all of the lovey-dovey-ness by way of explanation of this time-travelling issue. Plain and simple, there was none. I should have know it, but THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE focuses on the emotional repercussions of this unique relational issue. The film makes no attempt to satisfy the intellectual conundrums it flaunts in our faces and this has left some sadly disconnected with this couple and their plight.

Regardless of the film's many weaknesses, the glaring strength is composer MYCHAEL DANNA's beautiful, original score. It will come as no surprise that Danna's music features many of the main staples of the romantic score: brilliant strings, soulful piano, woodwinds, cello...the works. With these in hand, DANNA goes on to craft some truly intoxicating, thematic material. Wave upon wave of musical romance is balance out with some evocative instrumentation and production representing the idea of time travel. Through his well-crafted score, MYCHAEL DANNA helps you to feel this destined love, while simultaneously making you ponder on this exotic dilemma these lovers are in.

For Claire (Rachel McAdams) we have a soft undulating theme introduced in "Meadows" (3) and reprised on occasion afterward in the climactic "See You Again" (22). Danna even puts a playful, pizzicato twist on this theme in "Home" (10). The second idea, which is slightly more melancholy but hardly less beautiful, is first heard in "How Does it Feel?" (4) and later in "New Year's Eve" (20). In both cases, Danna effectively uses strings and woodwind melodies to charm us. Truth be told, either one of these themes alone could support most romantic-dramas released these days, but MYCHAEL DANNA does not stop there. In "Alba" (13), he introduces a third, emotionally moving theme representing Henry and Claire's daughter, Alba. While somewhat sad around the edges in the initial performance, by the time we reach "It's a Girl" in track 17, we are familiar enough with the melody that we can completely sink ourselves into it's full symphonic beauty - one of the most rapturous pieces we've been treated to in 2009. While MYCHAEL DANNA has provided some very moving moments in scores like THE NATIVITY STORY or ARARAT, THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE may be tops. Now, having the romantic elements nailed down is one thing, but what does the composer do to keep this score from becoming all gush and no guts? What does he do to make his score stand out from the 15 million other romantic dramas out there?

Countering all of this sentimentality, Danna does something very interesting to represent both Henry (Eric Bana) and his little "chrono-genetic" disorder. In many of the key pieces, we hear a variety of chromatic percussion, bells, chimes and metal instruments of all sorts. Additionally, Danna introduces reversed samples. The former bring the idea of something mystical and ancient (a tone that Danna has proven his talent for in many previous efforts), while the latter, a clear connection to the idea of moving backwards in time. Simple, but it works wonderfully. We get our first taste of this in track 2, "I'm You Henry" and very effectively later on in "Testing" (12). Hints of these metallic percussion and reversed samples creep into many of the tracks, giving the score an intriguing, additional layer, while ever reminding us of the story's central, relational hurdle. Going a step further in defining Henry, Danna gives him his own theme played on modulated synth. Another interesting choice by Danna, as this musically adds to the thought of "warped time." Again, Danna introduces this early in the score in "I'm You Henry" (2) and bringing it back in "Train" (6) and "See You Again" (22).

The final components of THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE are comprised of darker musings, a Christmas carol, and two pop songs. First, some of the darker and more intense moments of the film allow MYCHAEL DANNA to introduce some dissonance as in: "Do You Know When" (11) and "Who Would Want That?" (15). Second, the soundtrack is launched with a few moments from the classic, German Christmas carol, "Es 1st Ein Ros" (1) and then reprised via a brief, violin performance in "Five Years" (18). New Line Records release of this original soundtrack also includes two pop songs: one a disasterous entry and the other a fitting and welcome inclusion. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (8) by Joy Division is a dank and depressing song that is pure drudgery, while the concluding track "Broken" (24) is a more appropriate song in terms of both tone and lyrics. The overall vibe of THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE is one that, while unashamedly romantic, contains enough musical creativity to set it a part from any other romantic score thus far through 2009. And I will go as far to say that this score may very well be the best score of any genre to grace my ears this year to date. THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE might might be something both sexes may want to skip until it's DVD-time, but don't deprive yourself of another classy and thoughtful effort from the underappreciated MYCHAEL DANNA.

Rating: 8/10

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Es 1st Ein Ros 0:51  ***
2 I'm You Henry 2:30  ***
3 Meadow 3:19  *****
4 How Does It Feel? 1:59  ****
5 Diary 1:21  ****
6 Train 1:43  ***
7 I Don't Feel Alone Anymore 2:22  *****
8 Love Will Tear Us Apart 4:44  
9 Married To Me 1:04  ****
10 Home 1:35  ****
11 Do You Know When? 2:09  ***
12 Testing 1:04  ***
13 Alba 2:33  *****
14 I Never Had A Choice 2:58  ****
15 Who Would Want That? 2:28  ****
16 I Left Him Sleeping 1:30  ***
17 It's A Girl 2:58  *****
18 Five Years 2:03  ****
19 Try To Stay 1:40  ****
20 New Year's Eve 1:55  *****
21 No Tracks In The Snow 1:48  ****
22 See You Again 5:41  *****
23 Broken 4:47  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 55 minutes  





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