Love Actually and Pirate Radio director Richard Curtis returns to the screen with the romantic time-traveling drama, About Time, starring Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams. About Time is an exceptional film that balances so many different points and key moments to create yet another memorable romance from a director that has been known for creating such real-life characters faced with so many difficult decisions. About Time loses track of time midway through, but the sincerity of the characters help push the story to a whole new level.
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is your average every day Joe. He lives a very simple life, but that doesn’t mean it’s a boring one. He’s a hopeless romantic and constantly searching for the love of his life. His life takes an interesting twist when his dad (Bill Nighy) reveals to him a family secret that goes on to change his life completely.
The men in his family can travel through time. It’s as simple as that, yet it’s as confusing as that. Given this new-found knowledge, Tim tries it out and soon realizes just how complicated the rest of his life will really end up being.
There are a certain set of rules that Tim must follow and understand, but aside from that, he’s free to do whatever he wants in hopes of bettering his life and the lives of those around him.
Love was always Tim’s first order of business and Mary (Rachel McAdams) quickly proves to be the love of Tim’s life.
About Time isn’t exactly your typical romantic comedy/drama. I mean, the time-traveling element is an obvious change of pace for a film like this, but also Richard Curtis, who has been known for making such great romances without ever chipping into the stereotypes and comfort zones too deeply. Curtis knows how to make dramas featuring fully fleshed out and real characters, faced with real-life decisions and consequences. He always knows how to write the dialogue so that it appears as authentic and never cliched or forced.
His films are always charming and sweet, yet emotionally challenging and rewarding. I’d almost argue that Curtis deserves a sub-genre of his own, because his work doesn’t really fit smoothly as just a drama, a comedy or a simple romance. His work best represents real life storytelling and in real life nothing can really be classified as one thing or another. It’s a little bit of everything.
About Time moved me tremendously. I oftentimes break down films on a simple technical level, because that helps curve the human bias brought into any critique, but sometimes a film like About Time comes along and completely sweeps you off your feet. There’s just something really special about it that connected with me more than usual and for that I must say that despite its flaws, it works.
With About Time, Richard Curtis essentially creates a film that holds its own as “one of the best” in just about every sub-genre that it functions in. The time-traveling elements aren’t as extremely detailed or as written out as Primer, Looper or The Butterfly Effect, but when you look at the rules that he does establish and how he follows them, you’ll be pleased to know that everything fits into place just fine.
As a romantic drama, About Time successfully achieves many things. For one, it focuses strongly on the characters and their connections with each other on a day-to-day basis. This isn’t just about Tim and Mary and how they fell in love and how Tim used time-travel to his advantage. This is about Tim’s life and how his life impacts those around him. About Time isn’t afraid to get personal or intimate, yet it effortlessly expands and grows when the story calls for it.
It’s so hard to explain the plot of the film without just summing it up, because the film plays out in such a smooth manner. It really is just an overview on the life of a man gifted with the ability of time travel. There’s not one specific focus and instead a much larger and more meaningful dissection of his journey through life.
About Time is far from a perfectly structured film. There are a few short moments here and there that hold the film’s otherwise perfect pacing back. Some scenes tend to linger on for a little too long, but they’re mere bumps along the road. About Time is a deeply touching film though and one that gives you plenty to think about.
The way Curtis presents the importance of living each day to the fullest and appreciating every single little thing, big or small, is moving and heart-warming. Cherishing love and loved ones above all else is the true key to happiness and time travel isn’t even needed to discover that one.
And just like that About Time stretches itself far beyond the silver screen and plops itself down into real-life, much like the rest of Curtis’ body of work. About Time proposes the idea of time-travel in a light and silly manner, but hits it home with its layers upon layers of meaning and optimism. Tim may have the power to “change” anything he wants by way of time-travel, but he doesn’t actually change a thing in the grand scheme of things.
Life is about being a better person and appreciating what you have and who you have and About Time not only gets that message across loud and clear, but it constantly reminds you of it through different means.
There’s the relationship between Tim and his sister, which is one of those rare on-screen moments that actually feels like real brother-sister interaction and then there’s the relationship between Tim and his father, which is the film’s most emotionally satisfying relationship. And that’s not even mentioning Tim and his wife Mary.
Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy all help make Richard Curtis‘ film that much more. Gleeson is a relatively unknown, yet he carries the film with his awkward charm and constantly upbeat personality. McAdams is no stranger to the genre, yet she delivers a performance here that’s a little more subtle and restrained, yet effective enough to warrant casting her versus another newcomer. Bill Nighy takes the spotlight as Tim’s dad, delivering another performance that you’ll love and relate with on some level.
About Time is funny, charming, sweet and just about any other describing word that could be used. It’s seriously all of those things, plus so much more. Richard Curtis‘ ability to tackle so many genres on such a real level is amazing. The film’s running time does stretch itself out on a few occasions, but About Time‘s attention to detail, authentic dialogue and generally warm atmosphere will keep you strapped in and invested.
About Time – 8.5/10