Richard Mitchell gives his thoughts on Richard Curtis’s strike for post-Boat That Rocked redemption, thumb and arrives at some drastic conclusions…
There is a trend in modern cinema which presents romance as being only of value if there is obvious emotional drama to be dragged kicking and screaming from it. ‘True romance’ is presented as being this torrid, painful affair, full of heartache and loss for all those involved. The motivation behind such stories is obvious; producers assume (unfortunately all-too-often correctly) that we as viewers will see no value in a story that lacks these components. What makes About Time just so brilliant is that it ignores this trend and instead chooses to find the glory present in the everyday and the ordinary; here is a story about time travel that uses this central gimmick not to force us into moral, Butterfly Effect-style quandaries but to make each of us question what we take for granted each day and remind us that we should look for happiness in the little things.
Yes, time travel. This is a tale straight from the realms of science fiction, and the premise is one that anyone can find deeply alluring; males, in protagonist Tim’s family, can travel back to any previous point in their own individual timelines and relive the past, tweaking it howsoever they please. Tim chooses to use it to win the love of his life Mary and to spend time with his family. Tim is played wonderfully by Domhnall Gleeson; clumsy, charming, affable and sweet, he is reminiscent of Hugh Grant in Notting Hill. Watching him learn the limits of his newly-discovered powers and the life-lessons they teach him along the way is a charming and deeply rewarding experience.
There is so much to love in this film. Gleeson’s Tim is joined by many other likable characters, from the delightful Rachel McAdams as Mary to Bill Nighy as Tim’s father; the cinematography is some of the best of director Richard Curtis’ career; and the screenplay itself is just achingly romantic, without ever descending into schmaltz. Watch this film. Find someone you love and watch it with them. Sit in the cinema and let the small, curious magic of ABOUT TIME remind you of what it is to be loved and to be in love. If, somehow, you leave the cinema without a smile on your face, you are a cold, soulless wreck of a human being.