Review: About Time
PLOT: A young man (Domhnall Gleeson) inherits a rare gift from his father (Bill Nighy): he can travel in time. He uses his gift to woo a young woman (Rachel McAdams) and change his life for the better.
REVIEW: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Richard Curtis-land. This is a place where goodness thrives, money is never tight, and everyone- EVERYONE- falls in love. And not just love mind you. Epic, true love, complete with a meet-cute, romantic shenanigans, oh-so-clever misunderstandings, and kisses in the rain. Oh yes, and now time travel. One shouldn't forget that.
Taking my tongue out of its cheek, I should preface this review by saying that I bloody love Richard Curtis. Like Cameron Crowe, the man wears his heart on his sleeve, and his movies are nothing if not heartfelt. His latest, ABOUT TIME follows his biggest flop (but ironically his greatest film) THE BOAT THAT ROCKED aka PIRATE RADIO, and reinvents his floppy-haired, Hugh Grant hits of the nineties, with new leading man Domhnall Gleeson (son of Brendan) who, it must be said, can stammer with the best of them.
Here, Curtis gives his formula a sci-if twist, with Gleeson being able to travel through time, thanks to a rare gift passed on through his father, played by Bill Nighy. While even GROUNDHOG DAY used time travel to dip its toe into questions of morality and fate, Curtis isn't quite so ambitious. The idea of using time to gain wealth is shrugged off by Nighy early-on, who says he's never met a happy, wealthy man. Says the man who lives in a picturesque cottage in Cornwall. Rather, Gleeson uses his gifts the only way a Curtis protagonist possibly could: to find love.
Whether or not you get any enjoyment out of ABOUT TIME depends on whether you're able to watch the movie as un-cynically as Curtis made it. It's predictable, corny, and utterly without conflict or suspense, but it pushes the right buttons if you're open to it.
One thing's for sure, Gleeson is a real find. Having only seen him in the ultra-serious ANNA KARENINA and the HARRY POTTER'S (with him being Bill Weasley ), the man is clearly a star in the making. It helps that he's paired with the always eminently likable Rachel McAdams. Despite this being a slight retread of her own TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE, she's ideally cast as the love of Gleeson's life. She's utterly adorable, and while this is familiar territory for McAdams, she plays it so damn well.
Of course, being a Curtis movie, it also suffers from all of his common problems as well. As usual, it's lengthy, although the 125 minute running time isn't quite as punishing as LOVE ACTUALLY's or THE BOAT THAT ROCKED (in it's UK version) which both clocked-in at close to 140 minutes. There's also tons of love montages set to pop tunes, and as usual, his selection is a little generic. Do we really need yet another montage set to The Cure's “Friday I'm in Love?” And finally, Curtis' kindly, “everyone who's troubled can be fixed by love” ideal is pushed to the breaking point through the treatment of a major character, although if the biggest issue with the movie is that Curtis is too optimistic, that's a pretty minor thing. Naturally, the time travel conceit is also full of holes, but other than the aforementioned GROUNDHOG DAY and BACK TO THE FUTURE, when are time travel movies not?
Whether or not you're able to enjoy ABOUT TIME really comes down to which way Curtis' work rubs you. If LOVE ACTUALLY was an ordeal for you, than stay far away from this. But, if it made you smile, ABOUT TIME will do the same. Of the dozens of studio rom-coms that come out every year, once again Richard Curtis has delivered the rare good one.