Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams & Bill Nighy
Now that the nights are drawing in, it’s back to school and life, and the sun-kissed holidays of summer are over, it feels rather sweet of Richard Curtis to return offering us another of his chick-flick/Brit-flicks full of romance, comedy and unashamed slushiness. About Time is the perfect date-movie, mates-movie and I-just-want-a-nice-film movie, which makes its release in the beginning of September slightly strange; surely this kind of film should be in theatres at Christmas or in February? Still, as my friend neatly surmised, if there’s one thing the film tells us, (once it’s finished making doe-eyes and blushing) it’s that we should learn to live with the imperfect. That’s what life’s about, after all.
The film begins with the excellent Domhnall Gleeson, who stars as Tim in his biggest role to date, being informed by his father (an ever-wry Bill Nighy) that he has the family gift of being able to travel back in time, to any point in his own life. Like every red-blooded young male, Tim, once he realises his dad is indeed being serious, seizes the opportunity to put his new temporal-travelling skills to the test for the sake of love. The inevitable heartbreak ensues, but soon young Tim has the good fortune to bump into Rachel McAdams in Old London Town, who, despite playing a character with the same name as his mother, is obviously The One with knobs on.
Although it’s no weighty political drama that you watch feeling smug for putting in the intellectual effort, About Time does its job with aplomb. Of course, Curtis is an old hand at this sort of shtick now, and the movie’s tone is pitched perfectly, edging just on the right side of saccharine. Fantastic performances aid this of course; McAdams may be getting typecast as the sweet love-interest who falls for the temporally-challenged, but she does it so well it’s no matter. Indeed, Gleeson and McAdams inhabit their characters so perfectly, Tim and Mary are all you see, in direct contrast to the nerdish joy of spotting Curtis’ mates in various cameos (the most poignant of which comes from the late Richard Griffiths). Tom Hollander’s irascible playwright provides a snark-filled breather from the relentless cheery optimism that is the film’s lifeblood, and newcomer Lydia Wilson gives an intriguing performance as Tim’s troubled sister Kit-Kat, a character whose story offers some much needed reality to the fairytale of Tim’s love-life.
Viewers wanting to dissect the timey-wimey plot afterwards, be warned; it took roughly two minutes for me and my friends to realise the premise does not stand up to such scrutiny. This doesn’t matter, however, because ultimately, About Time is not about time at all; dropping the ‘e’ may give you a clue. Tim’s relationships are what the story is concerned with, though the primary relationship is not the one you might expect. The bond between Tim and his dad may be over-idealised, but then Tim’s whole life is, from the ability to go back in time to the fact that he lives in a mansion in Cornwall (how interesting, though un-Curtis, this movie would have been had Tim hailed from a terrace in Birmingham or a flat in Glasgow). Curtis gauges the sentiment just right though; there’s a scene at the end that I defy anyone not to be moved by. If you’re after something different, cosy, and just a little bit romantic, About Time is for you. At least I don’t have to hire a TARDIS or borrow a Time-Turner to go and see it again.