Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy
Director: Richard Curtis
Running Time: 122 mins
About Time is a British film about a young, loveless man who learns that the men in his family have an ability to travel back in time. With this new knowledge, he soon sets about using his power to catch the girl of his dreams.
I have a really strong love-hate relationship with the films of Richard Curtis. They’re all up there as the gold standard of cheesy romantic comedy-dramas, but while some prove likable and often funny, others are just painful to watch. When it comes to About Time, however, I’m glad to say that it’s possibly the best of the bunch from Curtis, taking a strange premise that lightens the whole atmosphere, and as such makes for a film that’s a lot more fun to watch than it is stupidly sappy.
Normally, with the likes of Four Weddings And A Funeral, Love Actually and Notting Hill, ‘love’ is presented as the be-all-and-end-all of absolutely every character, and at the worst of times, everyone on screen comes across as romantic drones, unable to have any other defining characteristic than their relationship with a significant other, something that generally makes for very dull watches.
It’s fair to say that I’m not quite the target audience for these films, but that’s still a gripe of mine that I’ve never seen rid of, until now.
The great thing with About Time is that it’s not so painfully serious about love and relationships as is normally the case in these films, something that’s achieved very simply through the introduction of time travel into the story.
You may at first see it as a cheesy gimmick to get more out of a standard romantic relationship, but what it does right from the start is cheapen the drama and emotion of generic ‘love’ by making it a little more ridiculous, and a little less meaningful. As a result, you’re not compelled to take it all so seriously, and you can sit back and just enjoy watching the story unfold in typically cheesy fashion, a stroke of genius that I’m glad to say breaks the routine of the generic rom-com.
The screenplay knows from the outset that its time travel story element is totally ridiculous, however it also has the adverse effect of bringing another dramatic and emotional element into play, one of nostalgia and the past, something that makes for a far more relatable and interesting watch than typically sappy romance, and allows you to connect in a deeper way with our main character as he tries to negotiate his life.
I can’t say that About Time is as funny as it aims to be, and some of the Curtis-esque awkward humour doesn’t come off in the most spectacular fashion, however all of the performances, from Domhnall Gleeson in the lead to Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy and more, are all delightful throughout, with good energy, charisma and smiles across the board helping the movie to a strongly uplifting and sweet atmosphere throughout.
Overall, I enjoyed About Time quite a bit. With feelings far better than what I normally have to Richard Curtis movies, it’s a light-hearted and enjoyable watch throughout thanks to a clever use of fantasy from the start, while the performances all come together to give the film a really lovely atmosphere too, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3.