Review by-Jarrett Leahy
Sweet and timidly wide-eyed, Tim Lake would never be described as a lady’s man. However, after another fruitless New Year’s Eve party, Tim is sat down and informed by his father of an absurdly unthinkable family secret. All the men in the Lake family have the ability to time travel. While they can’t alter history, or as is father put it, “you can’t kill Hitler or shag Helen of Troy,” they do have the ability travel back in time and change any moment they have experienced in their own personal past. After disbelief and a mind-altering trial run, Tim decides the best way to utilize this preposterous new power is to use it to…get a girlfriend. Tim quickly finds out however that this won’t be as easy as he initially anticipated.
Domhnall Gleeson, the Irish actor who plays Tim is a gifted star in the making. Originally known for playing Bill Weasley in the final two installments of the Harry Potter series, Domhnall continued to cut his acting teeth with notable supporting performances in films like the Coen Brothers’ remake of True Grit and Joe Wright’s adaptation of Anna Karenina. In About Time, Gleeson is asked to do the near impossible, make the audience believe he can actually travel through time. Not only does Domhnall capably convince us, he’s able to perfectly capture the lovably awkward charm that is Tim Lake.
Not to be outdone, Gleeson’s alluring co-star Rachel McAdams also enchants. McAdams’ Mary is equal parts exuberantly quirky and adorably unsure. The chemistry these two actors were able to create is playful and genuinely sincere. The film’s comedic relief is brought most notably from acting veteran Bill Nighy, who has been in all of Curtis’ films. His portrayal of Tim’s dad personifies both a nonchalant irreverence and a loving appreciation for the unique circumstances this odd gift has afforded him.
Set in England, About Time takes full advantage of all the country’s fabulous scenic surroundings. Whether showing off the beautiful cityscape of London, or a tranquil beachfront of the English coastline, each scene highlights the best of what the country has to offer. Because About Time involves time travel, the pesky issue of the “butterfly effect” is always present. However, instead of trying to give a long, dull explanation on how they have avoided such difficulties, I actually appreciated the way the film playfully shrugs it off. After all, when more closely examined, About Time really isn’t a film about time travel. Instead it is a romantic fantasy that simply uses the premise of time travel to help with its bigger message about cherishing life’s little moments.
Over the years, some have tried to dismiss writer/director Richard Curtis’ work as too affectionate and schmaltzy. But after watching About Time I’ve come to the conclusion that Curtis is in fact the modern day embodiment of legendary director Frank Capra. Like many of the Capra’s most celebrated classics, each of Curtis’ films, Love Actually, Pirate Radio, and About Time are romantic, playfully humorous, and unapologetically sentimental. Some don’t appreciate that kind of mawkishness, but you can call me a Curtis devotee. With this movie Curtis has created a worthy successor to his previous efforts. About Time is a Capraesque first-rate story that tugs on the heart and reminds you to stop and enjoy the wonders of everyday life.-JL