About Time - 2013
Director(s): Richard Curtis
Writer(s): Richard Curtis
Cinematography by: John Guleserian
Editor(s): Mark Day
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Margot Robbie, Vanessa Kirby, Joshua McGuire and Tom Hollander
There is a new movie coming out this year called Yesterday - in where a man wakes up in a world where The Beatles didn't exist, and only he remembers all their songs. While on paper it sounds like a fun idea, it falls apart the more you think about it - so I went to IMDB and clicked on the director/writer's name, because of it very familiar to me, and it happens to be Richard Curtis. The man behind Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones Diary, and Love Actually. But more importantly, for this review and the justification of this long-winded introduction, the director/writer for About Time. Another film with a fun idea that the more you think about, it collapses on itself - yet I completely love this film and have watched it more than I care to admit. Let's talk about it.
The story follows Tim (Gleeson) as he is turning twenty-one. He learns from his father, James (Nighy), that all the men in their family when they turn twenty-one, can time travel to any moment of their past. While at first, he takes this as a joke, Tim realizes quickly that his life going forwards will never be the same. After falling madly in love with Mary (McAdams), Tim most balance his urge to use his powers to fix his and his loved one's mistakes, and risk losing the life he has built with Mary.
I am going to get this out of the way first - I can see all the flaws within this film. The breaking the rules of time travel they set, the relationship technically built on lies (he never tells Mary of his powers), and the perfect partner that rarely challenges Tim in Mary. I also see the manic pixie-esque / borderline unbelievable character of the sister being grating to some, the cliché one-dimensional supporting characters that appear in all rom-coms, and the on the nose "tug at your heartstrings" moments that... tugged at my heartstrings. However, I cannot do anything to avoid the gravitational pull it has on my emotions. The joy that it produces in me to see them fall in love, and the raw emotions it creates as he says goodbye to his loving, and eternally supporting father. It is like Curtis conjured the perfect alchemy formula that kills all my cynical brain cells and lets me unplug from the world for two hours, and embrace this "unabashedly sincere" film.
While the message of the story is mainly why I love it so much, to live in the moment and embrace the simple details of life knowing they are the only ones you will get; slowing down and not letting the minutiae weight you down - the chemistry of the cast is what makes it for me. Bill Nighy's loving glare towards his kids, wife, and brother-in-law comes across so pure and earnest that you never question his intentions. Nighy and Gleeson playing tennis make me smile since they are genuinely happy to be with each other, making their bittersweet farewell land every single time. Gleeson and McAdams' playful banter and love for one another is like a fly trap that I always fall for and become fully invested. Gleeson as the lead sells this story, as usual, a Curtis' film features a cynical lead, Gleeson is pure of heart, and good nature helps keep the plot moving forward.
About Time takes a sci-fi premise of time travel and grounds it in the rom-com genre, exploring what is truly important for us as human beings - relationships. We are defined by our connections to other humans, that it be as an offspring, sibling, partner, or friend - love is ultimately what drives our happiness, and life decisions. Tim's use of his powers and his conclusion of life's meaning always tugs at my heartstrings, even if it is on the nose and heavy-handed. This film is a prime example for the subjectivity of the art form, as it is hated by many, and I just cannot help to love it.
About Time is Why I Love Movies.
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