15 August 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife film and sexism

Prediction: Someday people will look back on when The Time Traveler's Wife was released and comment about how much in common it had with Blade Runner.

Hope: Someday people will look back on when The Time Traveler's Wife was released and wonder how women and men ever put up with being treated like this. I don't mean in the movie; I mean the reaction to it.

Here's why:

I've read about five reviews of the film so far, and all the reviewers are more or less hung up on how preposterous it is to throw a time travel angle into a perfectly straightforward women's weepie romance story. Some have even gone so far as to claim that having Henry constantly running into Henry (and Alba running into Alba, for that matter) ruins what little believability the film has.

Funny, no-one seemed too upset about Spock the Younger and Spock the Elder meeting in Star Trek. Maybe if a black hole and spaceships are involved it's all right? It can't be Eric Bana's fault, because he's in both films, after all.

Personally, I was relieved when the film finally started. Before then, I'd been subjected to trailers for various romantic comedies, ads telling me how to send my (non-existent) children to school in an environmentally friendly way, and lots of trivia about how female stars make extravagant demands while on movie sets.

It made me wonder how the men in the audience could stand it. Yes, there were men in the audience.

The thing is, TTW is a science fiction story held together by its depiction of a marriage, not the other way around. Of the first three people I recommended the book to, two of them were men. They both liked it.

So why is TTW getting reacted to as if it's a straight "for women" romance film?

For me, this is where Blade Runner comes in. It got a similar reaction: the film noir elements didn't belong in a science fiction setting, people said. The characters lacked emotion. It was too unbelievable. It was too confusing. People couldn't understand it.

It's now a cult classic.

Until the idea dies off that the only films women will go see on their own are weepies and romantic comedies, any film that has a marriage at its core is doomed to be mis-marketed and mis-received.

In case anyone in marketing ever reads this, it may interest you to know that this 39-year-old woman of European descent who works as a full-time professional is going to see either Julie & Julia next — or else D-9. They both look pretty good.