Go into a dark space. Clinch your fists with your arms akimbo to your body. Think. Really think about a moment in time that you wish could have been perfect. Close your eyes. Cue dramatic whooshing sound. Open your eyes. You’ve just completed time travel at its finest. Well, that’s the case in Richard Curtis’ touching British dramedy, About Time.
Time travel is no stranger to serving as a cinematic plot line. It plays more as a learning tool than a stranger in this outing. Time travel is always a tricky concept to play with in film, especially one that’s intertwined with fate, destiny, and however else one would like to describe the future. About Time approaches time travel with a clear focus, and an endearing message that filmgoers are sure to enjoy.
The morning after the Lake family’s New Year’s Eve party, socially awkward and hungover Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is beckoned by his lively father (Bill Nighy). It’s here that the family time travel secret is revealed: at the age of 21, all the men in the Lake family have the power to time travel. Of course, as with any time travel film, there are rules. You can only travel back to a time that you experienced. Just find yourself a dark cupboard or closet and you’re set.
The characters of Tim and Mary (Rachel McAdams) drive the plot for the majority of the film. It’s Tim’s desperate desire to have a girlfriend that invites the audience on his journey to accomplish such a feat. In what many would expect to culminate in a predictable boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl-back type of scenario, the audience is taken for a turn. Tim develops a yearning for life as the film progresses. Much thanks to his father of course.
Richard Curtis and British romantic comedies go together like fish and chips. With an impressive repertoire in the genre, it’s no wonder that he could turn a humdrum concept of time travel into a life-learning experience. After casting a fascinating lineup, as he did with Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, one could possibly dub him the British Rob Reiner.
The editing served as viable visual tool when pertaining to time travel. In most time travel movies, there are subtitles whenever a character decides to jump dimensions. In About Time, the lack of subtitles served the film well. One could easily witness the time change, but it was Tim’s experiences that portrayed a vivid image of how he was at different ages.
Typically one finds a film either character-driven or plot-driven. In this situation, the two coincide to drive each other. Many films are dragged down in complexity when attempting to combine concepts. The audience will be pleased to witness that this film is far from complex, but a more sophisticated-simple experience. In that respect, Richard Curtis’s About Time receives two thumbs up, so as to nudge everyone to go enjoy this film. It’s simply delightful.
About Time opens today at the Ritz East.
Author: Kyle Harter
Kyle Harter recently relocated to Philadelphia after receiving his BA in Film from the University of Central Florida. Kyle aspires to a career of filmmaking, writing, and adventure. Kyle has a mild obsession with Quentin Tarantino, coffee, and Corgis. He co-authors the film blog, The Main Squeeze.