I'm a bit of a Richard Curtis fan. I adore Love Actually, Vicar of Dibley is an all-too-short laugh riot (only 20 episodes over damn near 20 years??), and his lesser seen TV movie Bernard and the Genie is an unsung classic. His latest film (of only 5 so far that he's actually directed) is 2013's About Time, which I wouldn't say I avoided, but I just never went out of my way to see. I didn't realise it was by him, and I just assumed, based on zero information, that it was like any other generic rom-com of the modern era. Well I'm happy to say now that I've seen the movie, and
Tim is a young man worried about doing things right and meeting the perfect girl as he gets older. But on his 21st birthday his father tells him a secret. The men in his family all have the ability to travel backwards in time, to relive their past experiences. Tim is immediately skeptical, until he tries it out and realises the gift he has. It comes in handy ion numerous occasions, but he also discovers he has to be careful with it, lest anything important be changed.
About Time is a lovely romantic comedy. Sweet, innocent, with a real human touch. It's been described by its creators as an anti time travel movie, and this is correct, as the reveal that its hero can time travel is delivered quite casually, only 5 minutes in.The plot is enjoyable, and never feels as long as its 2 hour runtime. It runs the gamut of emotions, and the events are always amusing to watch
Something I admire about About Time is its cosy and casual tone. The movie has its fair share of drama, but it comes in the form of personal dramas, rather than outward conflict, and this means the film is always a very breezy watch. No third act break-ups, no loud arguments or forced contrivances to cause trouble. The only thing that comes close is when Charlotte comes back, but true to its nature, the film deals with that storyline in exactly the way you'd hope.
There are many good or great scenes throughout, from funny, to romantic, or both. There's also a good amount of dramatic moments, all of which feel earned. Never too maudlin or caccharine, and getting just the right reaction from the viewer.
The movie toes a fine line between good awkward, and cringey awkward. It's never so cringey that you want to self-combust, and the worst offender of this is really just the one scene. The rest are funny, such as girlfriend confusion. The only scene that left me confused is Tim accidentally erasing him and Mary's first meeting. It's so he can go fix the play, but I saw no reason why he couldn't do both. And preserving that probably would have been for the best, since it would ensure it was still Mary who started things. But still, no big deal, as their second first meeting is nice too.
The characters are a fine bunch. Richard Curtis once again brings his famous touch of authenticity (which often comes in the form of 4-letter curses), and three's never a dull moment with these guys.
Tim is your typical awkward British lead, filling an archetype that can sometimes put people off, but I found to be good. He's believable, and charming when he manages to get talking. Mary meanwhile is likeably and charming herself, as well as proactive in their relationship.
The only thing I didn't like about their romance is that she never knows Tim's secret. This makes her a bit of a stranger to some of the film's events. But on that same token, I never felt this was a major problem. Nothing ever happens that =, aside from the temporary baby switcheroo, but that's a shitty situation for both parties, and there's no sense bothering her with temporary memories that don't exist anymore.
Tim's sister Kitkat is decent, though he describes her as the most fun and interesting person he konws, but we never relaly see that. It's not that she doesn't fit the bill per se, just that we never see much of this in action. She doesn't appear as much as I'd have hoped.
I liked all the supporting players. Tim's best friend Jay is a clumsy doofus, as is his coworker Rory, and both are nice. The curmudgeonly playwright Harry meanwhile is amusing. Tim's first 'love' Charlotte plays her part well. She's a bit of a bitch, but neither does the movie go really overboard with this. My only issue with a lot of these characters, and indeed the film overall, is that I wish some of them had appeared more, mainly Kitkat and Tim's friends.
The actors all do great jobs. Domhnall Gleeson is a perfect lead, embodying everything cute and awkward about romantic but shy British guys. Rachel McAdams is adorable and swet, an all round joy to watch. Bill Nighy is very much the heart of the movie, and while there is an annoyingly long gap between appearances for a while, he does great. Tom Hollander is funny, and fairly over the top. Lydia Wilson is good, as is Margot Robbie in her supporting role. Will Merrick and Joshua McGuire are practically interchangeable, but fine nonetheless. Lindsay Duncan also does very well in the time she has. And lastly, we have a great pair of cameos from Richard Griffiths and Richard E. Grant
The locations here are great! Cornwall is typically beautiful, whether the sun decides to shine or not. I'm seriously envious of the family house too. London is a little less great, but it's otherwise a cool city, and is presented in a nice way. Lots of glittery lights and snazzy nooks and crannies.
Now let's come to the effects, or lack thereof. The movie never uses any flashy effects for the time travel, which works well. It happens in a convincing enough way, low-key and effective, and this avoids looking goofy. If he disappeared in a flash of light or puff of smoke every single time I have a feeling the movie would spawn particularly deadly drinking games.
Overall, About Time is a very nice watch. It's the kind of positive story I wish we'd see more often nowadays. If you have a girlfriend, don't be afraid if she selects this to watch, and if you're eager to show to your boyfriend, go right ahead! You can rarely go wrong with Richard Curtis...
40:10, 43:17, 46,