I am afraid I am going to turn into a total fanboy of Richard Curtis. He is the director of About Time, but before that he also directed Pirate Radio and Love Actually. Two movies that I could watch again and again and gave high marks to. Let’s just say I went into About Time with a bit of a bias.
A bit of a bias, and a bit of a romance-boner. Mmmm, love.
Time travel in movies can be a hard topic to get right. There are many ways they can set up the time travel concept, but the hard part comes in being consistent and still following the rules they set up logically. Plenty of bad films fail at this, About Time keeps it consistent and follows its rules throughout.
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) was living a loveless and sad life until he learned a family secret. Before then, he always felt like he was missing something. That is when his dad (Bill Nighy) informed him that the men in his family can travel through time once they hit 21. A genetic condition or something.
They can’t go to the future and they can’t travel anywhere in time, but they can revisit moments in their own life, as long as they can remember that moment. They can relive them just for the experience, or they can change their actions, if they dare. Pretty awesome, but also very dangerous. They have to worry about the Butterfly Effect, so the changes can’t be too drastic. Once Tim makes his first trip, he knows exactly how he will use his new power. For love.
He quickly learns that using time travel to make someone love you doesn’t really work. No, he still has to find someone who finds him generally interesting, like the American Mary (Rachel McAdams). For whatever reason, she thinks he is charming, he just uses the time travel to fix his awkwardness. After all, practice makes perfect.
The good news is that this movie deals with more than just romance. Traveling through time gives an individual a lot of power, the power to affect the lives of those around you in meaningful ways. But could you morally handle the pressure of interfering with your friend’s life, instead of letting them choose their own destiny? Can you cope with the death of a loved one, if you know you have the ability to just visit them again in the past over and over again?
On the other hand, if you had some really sweet cake, you could always go back to that too.
By the end of the movie, I found myself crying as it attempted to tackle these hard subjects. About Time doesn’t fall into the same cliches that other films of the genre get caught up with. A lot of comparisons are being made between this movie and The Time Traveler’s Wife, and not just because Rachel McAdams is the the main love interest in both. They deal with love and time travel, but in completely different ways. The Time Traveler’s Wife was sad, but purely a drama/romance. About Time has equal parts drama and comedy, while dealing with more than just love, but life in general.
Gleeson hasn’t been in a lot of movies, and he currently is known for playing Bill Weasley in the later Harry Potter films, but he was a great choice as the lead role. He had a lot of help of course, with Nighy, a staple in Richard Curtis movies playing his father, his guide to the world of time travel, and the main source of drama in the final act. McAdams is really sweet in this film, and plays a character quite different than any of her previous roles. I also enjoyed the mother (Lindsay Duncan) and the sister (Lydia Wilson).
Overall, I think About Time will turn out to be one of those films that I can watch again and again, possibly getting something new out of it after every viewing. My opinions on it will also probably change as I get older, and experience events that the movie touches upon. It is a charming movie in every way. Thank you Richard Curtis, consider me a total fanboy now.
4 out of 4.