Reviews

About Time

3

The time traveller's strife

After dominating the landscape of British middle-of-the-road romcoms, Notting Hill and Four Weddings writer Richard Curtis returns with just his third film as director.

Fortunately, About Time is more coherent and less stick-your-fingers-down-your-throat than either of its predecessors, Love Actually or The Boat That Rocked. Yes, it’s a romance, but one that feels a little more soulful.

It’s driven by Domhnall Gleeson as Tim, an aspiring lawyer who learns – at the age of 21 – a family secret from his father (Bill Nighy). Put simply, the men in their family have the ability to travel back in time. They can’t rock up at any point in history, but they can return to various points in their own lives. All they need to do is disappear into a dark space – a wardrobe will do – and will themselves back.

Tim uses this talent in his romantic pursuit of Mary (Rachel McAdams): repeatedly flashing back into his near-past whenever he botches it, he even smoothes out their first rather quick-on-the-draw sexual encounter.

So a Brit-flick Groundhog Day? Not quite. Curtis isn’t too interested in logic loops and continuum consequences; as Tim discovers, the less he can use those backwards jumps, the better.

Had Justin Timberlake and co not already grabbed the title, In Time might have been more apt, for Curtis’ film is all about making the most of life while you can. Sounds corny, but as the second half unfurls, it’s a sentiment that plays out tenderly – not least between Tim and his father. A pity, however, that Curtis still insists on seeing his characters live in a fantasy-portrait of well-to-do Britain.

While McAdams is rather bland, making you wonder just why Tim would go to all the time-bending trouble for her, the big draw here is Gleeson, who manages his first major lead with aplomb. A charming presence – and more down-to-earth than Hugh Grant could ever hope to be – he’d have made an excellent Doctor Who.

Verdict:

Ditching the trademark forced theatrics, About Time finds Richard Curtis in more reflective mood. Don’t expect a life-changer, but it’s a pleasant shift of pace.

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Film Details

User Reviews

    • joeymac

      Aug 13th 2013, 8:21

      3

      It's a bit flabby and over-long in parts, and the characters aren't quite as loveable as they need to be, but there's still lots to enjoy. The review above pretty much nails it - although "About Time" is clearly a better play-on-words for a *British* film than "In Time". But that's, just, like, my opinion, man.

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    • FBTYoung

      Aug 16th 2013, 9:30

      Camera work did not suit this film - spoilt it even more - the sister - terrible acting - therapy needed - why didnt they write this in - would have been a plug for The Priory - Richard Curtis wrote and directed - unbelievable - was very amateurish and cringeworthy . dont release it - too embarrassing

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    • jbal695

      Sep 14th 2013, 18:58

      4

      got a lot of bad press and it isnt 5 star but overall a very good film

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    • beebro

      Feb 8th 2014, 0:04

      4

      Good film, I enoyed it. As usual film critics are overly critical and just can't sit back and enjoy a film fro what it is. Ignore them.

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