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‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ review: Theo James and Rose Leslie star in HBO’s time-consuming series based on the book

Henry de James notes that time travel “just happens” to me at unexpected times – a “genetic flaw” that causes him to fall through time, leaving him “naked, penniless and running”. He and Clare (“Game of Thrones” Leslie) explain it all in direct-to-camera testimonials at different points in their lives, much like “The Office,” just with more nudity.

Indeed, James’ back is certainly on full display, in sometimes comical fashion, as he flees from the particular situations he finds himself in. Still, the core of the series is its non-linear exploration of the arc of their relationship, which includes moments where Clare knows far more than Henry, since the encounters she references haven’t yet come to this version of him.

Time travel always creates all sorts of confusing possibilities, but the way it’s used in the context of Audrey Niffenegger’s book can be particularly off-putting when translated to the screen. Top of that list is the fact that Clare and Henry first meet (for her, anyway) when she’s a child and he’s grown up, with him coming back to her regularly as she grows up. .

“I’ve loved him since I was six,” Clare says, and despite everything depicted on the elaborate arc of their romance, it’s very difficult to get through that subplot, as even Henry admits. , and not to make her sound at least a little scary.

The main appeal stems entirely from the two stars, who not only convey the periodic absurdity of their frequently interrupted exchanges, but effectively play the characters across multiple ages, which, given how often the delay resets, isn’t no small feat.

Adapted by Steven Moffat, whose credits aptly include “Doctor Who,” and prolific director David Nutter (“Game of Thrones” and more), “Time Traveler’s Wife” is lushly presented as yet another story of sci-fi-tinged love (“Somewhere in Time” comes to mind), complicated not by location but rather by time.

It’s an admirable effort, but one that just underscores just how unsuitable this material could be – the gist of it being that while time is indeed precious, these six episodes ultimately feel too much like a waste of time.

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” premieres May 15 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, which, like CNN, is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery.

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