Soundtrack: The Time Traveler’s Wife
Composer: Mychael Danna
Label: New Line Records
Release Date: August 11, 2009
The Time-Traveler’s Wife has gotten me into a tizzy. I don’t know if it is because I am a librarian from Chicago who went to the same library school as Henry, or because I have worked where Audrey Niffenegger has taught, but I happen to take that story quite personally.
That being said, I had no plans to see the movie — not because of the critical reviews, nor because of the box-office success. Because of that, this isn’t the traditional soundtrack review. I have no idea how the music is used in the film, nor how it works with the story being played out on screen.
Music is such a large part of the book, and a major scene happens at a Violent Femmes concert. I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t any Femmes on the soundtrack (do they even go to a show in the movie?), but it just served to remind me that this is one of the many reasons why the book is usually better.
Calling this album a soundtrack is a bit of a misnomer, as one would consider a “score” and a “soundtrack” to be two separate bodies of music used to tell the same story. For a story that is as musically centered as The Time Traveler’s Wife, the utter lack of rock (let alone punk) music was disturbing.
The score is composed by Mychael Danna, who also composed the scores for Little Miss Sunshine and (500) Days of Summer. Danna’s score alternates between haunting and melancholy, and creates an operatic soundscape to tell the story of Henry and Clare’s love. The instrumental score flows well as its own album, and creates a lush yet relaxing mood that is great for painting, cataloging, homework, or even time travel. It is easy to imagine how the music flows in the movie, and would be a great background for reading the book.
Unfortunately, a great score is ruined by two mediocre “rock” songs. The first is an unnecessary cover of the Joy Division classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Broken Social Scene. While the theme of the song is understandable for this story, I find any cover of this song to pale in comparison to the original, and this particular version is trying too hard to sound sophisticated, lush, and deliberately melancholy, transforming a sparse, lonely song into a funeral dirge. I don’t listen to Broken Social Scene, but it would seem that they sound as if they are singing every song with a mouth full of food. This song is also placed right in the middle of the album, breaking up a beautiful score with a jarring, out-of-context song.
The other “rock” song and final song of the album is “Broken” by Lifehouse. I am familiar with whatever Lifehouse songs are usually played at the end of network hospital procedural dramas, and this particular song does not fail to disappoint — it sounds like music for your Mom. Lifehouse tends to make Light Rock, and this song tries too hard to be edgy, instead ending up sounding utterly forgettable.
Much like the film adaptation, the music from The Time Traveler’s Wife creates a beautiful, melancholy story that is haunting, easy to digest, and even easier to forget.
1. “Es Ist 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” (1:36)
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” (2:29)
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” (5:42)
23. “Broken” (4:47)