Before we go any further, I would just like to start with a caveat. I am a sucker for Richard Curtis movies (not all of them, let’s not mention Pirate Radio, shall we?). My head tells me no, it shows me the plot holes, it points out the implausibility but my heart is reeled in and often I remark defensively that, ‘There’s something in my eye.’ So yes, I enjoyed About Time and I think you will too. This isn’t just a tale of romance but offers something richer, and funnier.
Tim Lake (the bumbling, charming Hugh Grant-esque Domhnall Gleeson) is a an awkward young man, who on his 21st birthday is told a family secret. An unexpected one. You see all the Y-chromosome possessing members of his family can time travel, he is told by his father (the ever charismatic Bill Nighy). His dad goes on to tell him there are exceptions and rules to follow and explains how he used his genetic gift to satisfy his inner bookworm. Tim’s ambitions are not quite as grandiose, after the initial desire to make more money. You see, he just wants a girlfriend. Hearkening back to Narnia, in order to time travel he needs to find a cupboard or dark space and clench his fists and think of the moment in question.
Director Richard Curtis is no stranger to the rom-com (Love Actually has become something of a Christmas staple) and in his directorial swan song, he delivers. Yes, you read that right, it’s his last film. About Time is ultimately more about the relationship between a father and his only son and learning to enjoy every moment. Though time travel is not a unique concept, it’s used in a cutesy way here. Don’t expect logical scientific explanations, the rules it institutes in the beginning are often bent or broken, without explanation. The cast can make or break a film and where Curtis falls short in some of the plot and execution, he more than makes up for with the solid, loveable cast and witty, sharp script. Their interactions, their mishaps, their love is ultimately what keeps this unconventional rom-com going.
Rachel McAdams plays Mary, the American girl he encounters in a strange meet cute in London. I was little unsure of this film when I heard she was to make another attempt to time travel (The Time Traveler’s Wife, anyone?). On this occasion it’s a lot less awful and a different take on her usual performances and you start to fall in love with her like Tim does. Bill Nighy is brilliant as Tim’s father and they both play their father and son roles so effortlessly, it feels almost lived in, authentic. Tom Hollander as Harry, Tim’s surly playwright room-mate is brilliant. Lydia Wilson is Kit Kat, Tim’s free-spirited, purple-loving sister and Lindsay Duncan is Tim’s quirky mother who shares a namesake with his love interest. Even Uncle D (Richard Cordery) with his limited screen time is funny and memorable as the goofy uncle. Gleeson is one to watch, not because of his famous lineage (his dad is renowned actor Brendan Gleeson), but because he did a marvellous job in his first leading man role.
This is no Groundhog Day, it’s more akin to Sliding Doors, but it’s still worth a viewing on a night in but be warned, prepare to have your heartstrings tugged. Leave your mind at the door when watching this one as you can’t fill some of those plot holes. The acting is wonderful, hilarious and at the same time the characters are so normal and so relatable. Richard Curtis tells you a story, invites you in as part of the family (with a great soundtrack and stunning Cornwall views) and hopefully teaches us a lesson about the significance of our time and moments.
What did you think? Would you like to time travel back to before you saw it or happy to have done the time warp with Tim and co? Your turn on the soap box in 3, 2, 1.