Synopsis: At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think.
About Time is a unique film that infuses a dramatic story of love with elements of science fiction. Director (and also Writer) Richard Curtis maintains his familiar heartfelt tone and subtle comedy as seen in his other films (Love Actually), but adding the characters’ abilities of time travel adds both interest in the film and depth to the characters’ relationships. Time travel has been used in a variety of films and a few of those came to mind throughout the movie. It was difficult not to think of The Time Traveler’s Wife due to the fact that Rachel McAdams had also starred in that film that dealt with similar concepts. The difference with About Time is that there is a much more jovial tone than The Time Traveler’s Wife due to the moments of comedy and the main character regarding time travel as a blessing rather than a curse. The other film that came to mind was Groundhog Day due to the overall theme of repeating key moments to win one’s affection. I expected to see many of the same scenes repeated with different dialogue but this was not the case and allowed this film to drift away from any preconceived notions.
As a sci-fi nerd, I was excited to see how the ability to time travel was explained, but that side of me was immediately silenced at the beginning of the film. Probably within the first five minutes of the film, the time travel ability is introduced by Tim’s (Gleeson) father (Nighy) as just being an anomaly that is present in their bloodline and there is no explanation. For those of you who love the detailed, scientific explanations of such elements, you will not get that with this film. The ability to time travel is nothing more than a means to stimulate the relationships between characters and add to the perspective of finding love. The point of time travel in this film is to explore the question of “What If?” for all of those missed opportunities that we all may either regret or wonder about. Trust me there are some moments in this film that may have you fact checking the science behind the means, but I recommend viewing this film with your heart rather than your head to get the best experience.
About Time is more than just a love story, it’s a story about life. What I truly enjoyed about this film was its honesty rather than creating some embellished form of love. Many may enjoy the fictitious romance surrounding many Nicholas Sparks type films but even with the time travel element, About Time delivers a message straight to the hearts of the audience by examining the characters from every angle. Instead of just including the good and the bad, the more intricate details of the spectrum are explored such as the awkward, the mundane, and the indifferent. Exploring these details seemed to make the film linger at points, but was soon after appreciated as the characters continued to develop. It is those details that allowed me to see moments as a reality I could relate to and then emotionally attach myself to the characters. The relationships between their significant others, their family, and their friends are equally pertinent to the theme of the film. This creates a film that explores one’s day to day relationships and how they sculpt the person they are, rather than focusing on a particular relationship that defines only part of who someone may be.
While the story of the characters builds the foundations of the film, it is the strong chemistry between the cast members that truly develops the characters and establishes the film’s overall theme. Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams have great on screen chemistry but the moments between Tim and his father were the moments where true chemistry flourished. Bill Nighy fit into the role of Gleeson’s father effortlessly and Gleeson reciprocated the performance as his son. The two had their own particular routines between them such as a never-ending game of table tennis that signified their relationship. Their conversations were simple and they never specifically expressed how much they cared for one another, but it was felt through their strong performances. Gleeson and McAdams also fit well together but Gleeson definitely outperformed her which kept their chemistry from excelling when McAdams couldn’t match his level of sincerity in the role.
Overall I would recommend this film to anyone looking to go to a movie and come out feeling something. I’ve been to a lot of films lately that have left me with good or bad feelings, but no true emotional depth like this film. There was a combination of laughter, intrigue, and drama that would provide some sort of entertainment for any movie-goer. About Time was a film that I could relate to and emotionally inspired me by the time it was over. It was one of the few films in this genre that had me anticipating a second screening.
About Time – 8 out of 10
More than a love story, it’s a life story…