Sunday, April 25, 2010

Getting Good at Breaking and Entering

Many exigencies can motivate burglars; often, of course, it's substance abuse. In the throes of addiction, breaking and entering, along with theft, become merely the means to an end of getting cash for drugs.

But what if the reason for the burglary were an unavoidable existential emergency: to wit, a rare genetic disorder resulting in chronological impairment? More specifically, an impairment causing someone to move back and forth between discrete moments of time, leaving their clothes behind when they do - thus necessitating burglaries to cover the ensuing nakedness.

This is the fanciful but intriguing premise of Audrey Niffenegger's emotionally rich novel The Time Traveler's Wife, which was made into a fine film last year starring Rachel MacAdams and Eric Bana. Bana's traveler commits burglary after burglary, just to stay clothed after being chronologically disrobed. I've not seen such repetition of the same crime on screen since Jeremy Irons's Moonlighting in 1983, where Polish laborers stranded on London after the crackdown on the Solidarity movement resorted to shoplifting to survive.

Yet these burglaries are completely prosaic in the context of the larger themes. What is it like, in a marriage or any intimate relationship, when, for whateve reason, one's partner is not available? MacAdams's character, the traveler's wife, has been likened to Penolope in The Odyssey, keeping the flame of the relationship alive even amid years of waiting.

No comments:

Post a Comment