Film Review: About Time (12A)

At the age of 21, Tim Lake (Domhall Gleeson) discovers he can time travel- and so can every male member of his family. His father (Billy Nighy) reveals the secret at yet another unsatisfactory New Years Eve party and Tim quickly goes back in time to improve his chances of getting what is really wants- a girlfriend.

As the film progresses, Tim attempts to make life better for himself and his loved ones despite the fact that he can’t change the past or make anyone fall in love. He moves from Cornwall to London to become a lawyer and meets the love of his life Mary (Rachel McAdams), but because of his dabbles with time travel, he only wins her heart after their third encounter. Tim’s life continues and he realises his gift can’t always save him from life’s ups and downs. It’s a wonderfully light-hearted flick about love, family and time travel that’s sure to appeal to families and couples alike.

‘About Time’ is written and directed by Rom-Com king Richard Curtis, who’s known for T.V. shows such as  ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ and ‘Mr. Bean’ along with films like ‘Love Actually’, ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’. The film’s soundtrack features the likes of The Cure, Ron Sexsmith, The Killers as well as a single by Ellie Goulding called ‘How Long Will I Love You’, (originally by The Waterboys).

Although the idea of time travel thrown together with romance and family has been done before (‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’, anyone? Which also happens to star McAdams in the lead female role), ‘About Time’ promises something different, more emotional and magical. There has always been something fanatical about the world that Richard Curtis creates, but ‘About Time’ takes it a step further- each character, especially members of Tim’s family are well-developed, loveable English eccentrics who flourish on the Cornish coast.

Cast in the everyman role usually reserved for Hugh Grant, Gleeson is a loveable hero and boasts brilliant screen chemistry with McAdams, and yet his family are mysteriously well-off and bookish, and it appears, particularly at the beginning of the film, that he has very little to complain about, and very little opportunity to truly make the most of his gift. Bill Nighy, however never fails to let audiences down- and his warm, witty charm really lights up the screen and creates a strong bond with the audience.

The best supporting role in ‘About Time’ has got to be Tim’s London landlord, who also happens to be a friend of his father’s, Harry (Tom Hollander). He is a hysterically sour playwright who initially greets Tim with, “What the f**k do you want?” But the bad guy act simply doesn’t wash and it’s obvious there is profundity to each character. Even Harry is a big softie at heart and Hollander plays him with great intensity and fantastic comic timing.

Offering 123 minutes of laugh-out-loud moments and tear-jerking scenes, it’s clear Richard Curtis knows what cinema-goers are after. ‘About Time’ is ull of love without being too over the top and Curtis’ scriptwriting skills are absolutely admirable and his jolly upper-class, charming characters come out with some hilarious stuff under pressure, “Oh my arsing god in a box!” The narrative as a whole is simple yet ingenious and full of the honest, fragile serenity of life. But as Richard Curtis has basically become the backbone of British Rom-Com cinema, it’s all expected. It may be embarrassingly English but, ‘About Time’ is a beautiful, touching tale of love and hope.

Rachel McAdams absolutely glistens on screen and merges impeccably well into the role of Mary, even as she grows into a married woman, mother and mature lady. It may not be a completely conventional Rom-Com, but the movie does sparkle with a kind of unique charm. It’s clear that Curtis and his crew have cherished it as developed it in depth from start to finish. There is just the right amount of character and plot development to get the film going before the time travel twist is unveiled and one of the final montage scenes is the single most heart-breaking scene I have ever watched. Moreover, the final protagonist voice-over to close to film, which comments on what a “remarkable ride” life is, is sentimental without being too cheesy.

‘About Time’ is the perfect combination between amusing and more serious scenes as a result of Tim Lake’s time travelling antics. Lake uses his gift for multiple attempts at sex, to numerous first encounters with people and avoiding saying the wrong thing to the wrong girl but discovers how problematic time travel becomes when used for the bigger aspects of life; choices, morals, love, life and death. The variety of scenes is also excellent, enhanced by Mark Day’s wonderful editing skills. In particular, a speedy scene of Mary and Tim travelling past the same set of buskers in an Underground station and on different days. It’s beautifully shot, full of variety and really captures the light-hearted side of the film, without coming across as too sickly sweet.

The tender father/son relationship between Tim and his father is startling to see, because although it’s enviable, it’s also incredibly raw and realistic. John Guleserian’s cinematography is on par with the best Romantic Comedies out there and he forms a splendidly sunny persona for the film, that’s more of a coming-of-age movie about a not-so-heroic hero who matures into a responsible man who learns to appreciate what he has in life, especially in the here and now.

One-man brand Richard Curtis has a remarkable knack for making the ordinary, extraordinary and creating something delightfully exuberant and poignant. ‘About Time’ highlights all the ups and downs of everyday life and plays out romantic and heart-rending moments in perfect balance. ‘About Time’ is soothing, full of serenity and gives us all something to think about when it’s over.

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