Written by Mallory Delchamp
I always have mixed feelings as I walk into a movie theater to see a romantic dramedy. Films of this genre are one of two things: Brilliant or terrible. Very few romantic dramedies are somewhere in between. However, About Time, the latest British film from Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill) starring Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson is neither brilliant nor terrible, but it is enjoyable.
About Time tells the story of a twenty-something British fellow named Tim, who on his 21st birthday, is told by his father (played by Bill Nighy) that he and the other men in his family are able to time travel. His father explains that he can only venture into his own past and he can do so by climbing into a dark room or cupboard, clenching his fists, and then visualizing the moment he wishes to change or re-visit. Tim then spends the duration of the 2-hour-long film living his life as a normal person but when a moment doesn’t go as planned, he naturally travels back in time and attempts to change the outcome to his liking. An example being the first time he and Mary (McAdams) sleep together; the first try doesn’t meet his (or hers) expectations so what does he do? He has a re-do!
Tim does learn that he can’t fix or change everything for the better and eventually learns to accept life as it happens. But, more often than not he uses his time traveling ability to go back in time and spend time with his aging father. About Time, while it appears as a love story between a man and a woman, it is more a love story between a father and his son.
Rachel McAdams, who in my personal opinion is one of the strongest young actresses in Hollywood today, reprises the role we have all seen her play on several occasions: the pretty, girly love interest. Much like her character in The Vow and The Time Traveler’s Wife, McAdams serves only one purpose in About Time and that is to make female viewers jealous of her inability to look terrible despite having a poor haircut. Unlike The Notebook, this film doesn’t give Rachel McAdams a shining moment and the script, while it is intelligently written doesn’t allow for much development of Rachel McAdams’ character, Mary.
Domhnall Gleeson (who is notably most famous for his role as Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter films) however, portrays the average, young, love struck British bloke very well. He’s charming, quirky, and even awkward at times, which is surprisingly refreshing seeing how the box offices have been filled with dashing superheroes over the past year. He’s also just that -average, which allows for the authenticity and realism that Richard Curtis has come to be known for. Bill Nighy, who apparently has a knack for playing eccentric and kooky characters also shines as Tim’s time traveling father.
The film features an exceptional soundtrack including an eclectic mix of Ellie Goulding, Ben Folds, The Cure, and Amy Winehouse. Similar to that of Love Actually, the music definitely sets the tone for several scenes throughout the film. My personal favorite being a folksy rendition of “How Long Will I Love You” which plays as Tim and Mary steadily fall in love amidst the backdrop of downtown London.
Bottom Line: About Time isn’t ground breaking and it doesn’t hold a candle to Curtis’s former cinematic pieces, but it is genuine and heartwarming. It is simply a movie about having an extraordinary ordinary life. And, romantic dramedy fan or not, this is something viewers of all genres can appreciate and understand.