Weepie that fails the test of time

<strong>Film<br />The Time Traveler&rsquo;s wife<br />Cert: 12A</strong><br /><br />BASED on the best-selling and much-loved novel by Audrey Niffenegger, this film has its work cut out from the start. How do you depict a serious love story in which the man has a genetic condition that makes him visibly slide around in time? How do you show the same man meeting his future wife when she&rsquo;s six (and knowing he&rsquo;ll marry her) without succumbing to pure creepiness?<br /><br />It&rsquo;s laborious, and the film is a bit of a slog. However, when all else fails &ndash; which it often does due to corny lines, dull scenes and the blank confusion that comes with so many time frames &ndash; there&rsquo;s plenty of ogling to enjoy between the surprisingly talented Rachel McAdams (Claire &ndash; the wife) and, of course, hunky Eric Bana (time travelling Henry).<br /><br />Indeed, there is potent chemistry between McAdams and Bana. You believe in their love, mostly because of McAdam&rsquo;s sexual and emotional intensity, and that means you&rsquo;re just about gripped by its pitfalls. Bana, however, is wooden and cheesy; it&rsquo;s hard to see from his performance how he could have become Claire&rsquo;s romantic ideal.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s got major dud moments, but the movie&rsquo;s plot can&rsquo;t help but exude a powerful melancholy, overshadowed as it is by the knowledge of inevitable pain. How else could it be when &ndash; like Claire &ndash; you&rsquo;re married to a guy who zips off to your childhood (and his) at random, arriving naked and staying away for as long as two weeks? Seeing your dying husband squirm as you stand watching with the same husband, healthy and loving and years younger by your side &ndash; well, it&rsquo;s got to hurt. As a dead-pan Claire says at one point, a time travelling husband is &ldquo;a problem&rdquo;. Ya think?<br /><br />But really, there&rsquo;s only so much doomed love you can take. As with Romeo and Juliet, it can all get a bit claustrophobic here. When time travel and predetermined death loom, it&rsquo;s hard to let other things, like jobs, friends and fun, in the door. As one viewer said on leaving the cinema, &ldquo;Time travel makes you so self-obsessed.&rdquo; It would, wouldn&rsquo;t it &ndash; but whether you want to spend two hours watching the havoc it can wreak on a couple is another story. It&rsquo;s a film that ends up being both lofty and mundane, but chronically lacks sparkle.<br /><br />Zoe Strimpel<br /><br /><strong>Sin Nombre<br />Cert: 15</strong><br /><br />THE issue of migrants making their way from Latin America to the United States has become an increasingly prickly and prominent one in US political debates. The public image we have of this immigration wave is of people desperately hauling themselves across the Mexican border, playing cat and mouse with the US border guards.<br /><br />This film, both enthralling and devastating, shows the other side of the ordeal such migrants go through &ndash; the thousands of miles of danger and desperation many of them must endure before coming near that final border. It&rsquo;s a revelation.<br /><br />The film follows the stories of two young people experiencing the hell of hopeless poverty and lawlessness in Latin America, whose paths cross on the journey north. Sayra (wide-eyed Paulina Gaitan) is a 12-year-old Honduran girl who joins her father and uncle on a perilous trek to Mexico, where they join thousands of others who ride the roofs of freight trains for hundreds of miles towards the US. Meanwhile, teenage Mexican Casper, a member of a brutal street gang, is made to ride the trains in order to rob the vulnerable travellers. When he saves Sayra from an attack by his vicious, spectacularly-tattoed gang leader, their paths are intertwined &ndash; and Casper is a marked man.<br /><br />Sin Nombre &ndash; which means &ldquo;nameless&rdquo; &ndash; is as rivetingly tense as any thriller, and as moving as the most elegiac rights-of-passage movie. It has moments of horrifying violence, and imagery of deep, affecting beauty. It&rsquo;s a stunning debut from American writer/director Cary Joji Fukunaga, and marks him out as a major talent for the future.<br /><br />Timothy Barber