Review: ‘About Time’ (NYFF 2013)

About Time

About Time | Richard Curtis | November 8, 2013

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t expect much out of About Time. I quickly judged the film based on its first trailer, thinking it would be another standard fare Rachel McAdams rom-com with a bit of time travel thrown in. Boy, the old phrase don’t judge a book by its cover really does come into play here. I ended up being more than just pleasantly surprised by Richard Curtis’ latest effort, I really enjoyed it.

About Time tells the story of Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson, Brendan Gleeson’s son), a love hungry 21-year-old who has a great life with a loving family that seems far too good to be true. After an epic New Years party that his family hosts (like I said, too good to be true) Tim’s life will never be the same. The next morning Tim’s dad (a superb Bill Nighy) gives him a bit of information that will alter Tim’s life forever. The men in their family have the ability to travel through time. They’re unable to change history outside of themselves, but they do have the ability to change what has happened in their own lives, correcting their mistakes and making sure they do the right things and live life to the fullest.

About Time

Being a bit of a romantic, Tim uses his ability to correct his love life. He goes back and corrects the mistake he made at the New Year’s party by kissing the girl that he should have, instead of shaking her hand as he ended up doing during the first go around. Tim’s first trials of time travel are used to great comedic effect, shockingly laugh out loud funny and clever. Only he finds out that things don’t always work so easy, after a failed attempt with a family friend, Charlotte (Margot Robbie).

Soon enough Tim journey’s out on his own trying to make it as a lawyer and, like many young twenty-somethings, he is having trouble adapting to life and finding out that finding love is even harder than he ever could have imagined.

It’s not until a fateful meeting with a lovely girl named Mary (Rachel McAdams) that Tim’s faith is restored. They instantly form a connection and Tim falls head over heals for her. However when Tim next uses his time traveling powers to try and help a friend, he learns that one action will have a direct effect on another, possibly erasing certain aspects of his life. He soon founds out the hard way as he meets Mary again, only now she has no idea who he is. He needs to find ways to travel back in order to once again win her affection, and make sure that this time, it stays that way.

Like any movie about time travel, it does have its share fair of problems and questions to nitpick, and I’m sure many people will. Let them. Time travel is nearly just the plot device, as the true heart of the film is within Tim’s relationship with Mary and his family, specifically his father. He uses his time to perfect all his moments with Mary, and to go back and treasure the valuable moments with his dad that he wants to cherish forever.

About Time

Through time travel, Tim learns to appreciate things in life, such as the finer moments that you pass over during the first go around because you’re too busy trying to live. It’s a touching lesson that comes to great effect with the relationship with his father, which is arguably the core of the film due to a sincere and touching performance from the great Bill Nighy who completely steals the film. He’s always quick with a joke, but equally as quick with heartfelt advice for Tim, the joy of his life. Nighy might not get any awards recognition, but in my book he’s every bit Award worthy in this lovely role.

About Time may be somewhat saccharine and predictable at times, but it’s so well written and directed by Curtis that you can’t help but get swept up by your emotions. The performances are all there, from the very likeable Domhnall Gleeson to Rachel McAdams who may have been an obvious pick for this sort of role, but does the role plenty of justice. Lydia Wilson is dynamic as Tim’s sister Kit-Kat, and then there’s Joshua McGuire, Tom Hollander & Will Merrick who are all hilarious as Tim’s friends.

About Time surprised me quite a bit. I went in with no expectations and left quite touched, fighting back tears. It may have some problems, and some won’t like the sentimentality that it delivers. But for me, About Time quite memorably provided laughter and tears, and connected on a level that will force me to go back in time with it again someday.

Rating: 8.0/10