Love is a funny thing. When we are searching for it, things do not always seem to work well. In the moments when we are not searching, when you least expect it, love seems to find its way to you. You only get a handful of chances to succeed in life and in love, so what if you had the opportunity to do it all over and make things right the first time? Now say you had an infinite amount of chances to make life and love close to perfect and always what you want them to be. Could you really fix everything?
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) had a fairly normal childhood. He grew up in Britain to a fun-loving dad (Bill Nighy) and a wonderful mum (Lindsay Duncan). His carefree sister, Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson) was his best friend growing up and for a time, everything was normal. On his 21st birthday, Tim’s father reveals to him that the men in their family have the ability to travel in time. In an effort to prove his father wrong, Tim decides he would try this whole time traveling thing out, so as to prove his father wrong. He goes into a dark space, clenches his fists and imagines that he is back at his most recent New Year’s party. After stepping out of his wardrobe closet, his clothes have changed and inexplicably it is December 31st all over again.
With this newfound ability, Tim decides that he is going to use it for love. For him, a relationship has always been about love as flings are empty and serve no real purpose. He moves on with his life and tries to use his gift to help others. Although, on one unexpected evening, he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) in a blind-dating restaurant environment. The two immediately click and all seems well until Tim’s time traveling messes up events and forces him to try to find Mary and rekindle a relationship. As he comes to learn from his dying father, he simply cannot solve every problem and using his powers too often can lead to serious consequences.
About Time is the third and final directorial effort from writer/director Richard Curtis. You may know Curtis for his respected and cherished film Love Actually (a personal favorite), or for the lesser known Pirate Radio. Curtis is also the man who’s written such romantic classics as Bridget Jones’s Diary, Notting Hill and the Oscar-nominated Four Weddings and a Funeral. His films, whether you like them or not, are steeped in British culture, successful and hold up excellently over time. If you are unfamiliar with Richard Curtis’ work, ask your significant other, someone important to you, or just cut to the chase and spend a weekend watching them all back to back. Then check out About Time, a tremendous addition to an already impressive body of work.
Time travel has always belonged in the Science Fiction genre, but the catch here is that the men in Tim’s family can only travel back to places they have been, specifically places in their memories. Tim cannot help himself. He utilizes time travel to repeat events in which he feels he screwed up with women. Whether it’s a first impression or a terrible date, Tim wants everything to go off perfectly. His father, on the other hand, uses the gift to relive events with his family before his time runs out.
Many people will claim that this movie is about the burgeoning love between Tim and Mary, but it’s really about Tim and his father and their relationship. They have an intensely close bond and their family secret only brings them closer. Seeing Gleeson and Nighy interact as a father and son is simply delightful. They joke, they play and the love they have for one another is incredible. They are as close as a father and son can be and their relationship drives the story. That’s not to say that McAdams isn’t a pivotal part of the story. As Mary, she has her own life that is out of Tim’s control. Try as he might, he cannot fix everything between them, nor can he avoid every argument. As an on-screen couple, Gleeson and McAdams have delightful chemistry and work convincingly well as the ideal couple that everyone strives for.
While the time travel aspect of the film does have its set parameters, there are some instances where Curtis seems to play loose and fast with his own rules. The film also veers into occasional camp and contrived romantic comedy formulas, but Curtis is so gifted as a writer, he steers his film away from this trapdoors, Perhaps, one criticism comes with Rachel McAdams’ Mary being slightly underwritten, her character seems to be not completely realized. McAdams gives a great performance but we are not allowed to explore her character as much as we should. For the most part, though, my issues with About Time are minor and did not detract me from the film nearly enough to be bothered by them.
The truth is, I love About Time…a lot. The film touches on all the right emotional levels and its unique use of time travel is applied cleverly and thoughtfully. Whether you are young or old, male or female, everyone can and will appreciate this film. Curtis always aims more ambitious and to a higher level than most of the romantic comedies his films get compared with. Sure, there may be some clichés in his work from time to time, but his ability to tell a wonderful and heartwarming story sets him far above many of his peers. About Time has simply stayed with me in the days and weeks which have passed since I have seen it and I cannot wait to see it again. A perfect date night movie or reason to gather a group of friends, just get to a theater and see this film. You will come away smiling and wanting to live every day to the fullest, just like Tim.
About Time Trailer