Dr. Donna Copeland’s
DOMHNALL GLEESON RACHEL MCADAMS BILL NIGHY
The marketing for About Time, a time travel romantic sort of film, is interesting because it’s from the British film maker Richard Curtis and stars Domhnall Gleeson, who we all know here in America, just not by name. Gleeson is not only the son of character actor Brendan Gleeson, but also played Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise and is actually quite charming here. However, on the US poster for About Time, Gleeson’s face is nearly obscure as we see a very smiley Rachel McAdams trying to sell tickets for her second time travel romance film. To this film’s credit, it’s much more approachable and memorable than The Time Travelers Wife. But with any fantasy film trying to mix genres, it’s difficult to buy into the sap in this case.
Tim (Gleeson) comes from an extraordinarily ordinary family filled with love for one another. Yet at 21 years old, his father (Nighy) explains to him the most ridiculous of family secrets, which, as it turns out, is completely true. Tim and the other males from his father’s descendant line can time travel. What Tim learns is that with each trip back in time to change an experience, it’s his confidence level that is changed the second time he lives through the event. Tim also learns that with this special gift comes responsibility, and that it also has limitations.
About Time has a difficult time getting to an emotional standpoint where both Tim and the audience can fully appreciate the sacrifices and pain this special gift will have on his life. The first half of the film feels more like a coming of age story, as it’s so specifically focused on Tim trying to get a girlfriend. The time travel element really doesn’t dilute the character development or even the story very much; however, I couldn’t help but feel a false sense of emotional connection with the characters. One of Curtis’ strengths is creating unique and often awkward situations, as he did with Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and even Love Actually.
The scene where Tim and McAdams characters meet is one of the highlights of the film because they are completely in the dark at a restaurant where you can’t see the person sitting across from you. However, the script’s strong point becomes the relationship between a boy and his father, with Nighy giving the most memorable performance in the film. As with most of Curtis’s films, About Time exists for those who don’t want to watch a gripping, cinematic, edgy film that will challenge their minds. This type of film gives the audience what they already knew they were going to find when they bought the ticket.
Final Thought – Charming moments in a rather overly sweet film lacking edge or a real climax.
By: Dustin Chase
There are a lot of people who I think will love About Time. It is warm, endearing, funny at times, and heartfelt with substance at others. There is something about it, though, that for me is too sweet, too precious. This aspect did not bother me in the writer/director’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, but that was back in 1994; About Time seems anachronistic for this age. Except for this basic drawback, however, the film is well made, and as I say, many people will get a kick out of it and perhaps even be inspired.
The script moves the story along at a pace and with enough going on to hold one’s interest, and the acting is especially good. Domhnall Gleeson as the main character Tim seems perfect for the role, and knows just as well how to play the socially awkward, almost bumbling, teenager as the smooth, witty, young lawyer, one who is able to go back in time and re-do whatever encounter he has just botched. He and Rachel McAdams as Mary have good chemistry, and she can pull off a spacey look just as well as tuned in, competent, or playful. Bill Nighy is an award-winning actor who aces the role of Tim’s dad, and is well complemented by Lindsay Duncan as his mother. Likewise, the supporting cast members are all very good.
Like a good comedy, About Time has its moments of depth and truth telling related to lifestyle, relationships, faith, trust, and loyalty. In the end, the message comes through loud and clear to live life to its fullest and not to worry about the small stuff.