Review: About Time (2013)

If rom-com About Time is Richard Curtis’s final film, he has bowed out on a high, exploring family, love and loss.

A time-travelling romantic hero starring opposite Rachel McAdams. No, this is not The Time Traveller’s Wife, it’s About Time – the latest offering from Richard Curtis, the man behind Notting Hill and Love Actually, that delivers an emotional rollercoaster of awesome.

­­­With The Boat That Rocked unquestionably sinking, his third film as writer / director charts a much smoother journey across the seas of family, love and loss.

On his 21st birthday, Tim (Domhnall GleesonHarry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2) finds out – much to his disbelief – that all the men in his family can time travel. As his father (Bill NighyLove Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean) points out he can’t “kill Hitler” or anything drastically significant but he can use his gift to reshuffle the cards life deals him.

As Tim sneaks into dark wardrobes to transport himself back to chance encounters he sets about using his gift to snare the woman of his dreams, dowdy-dressed American Mary (Rachel McAdamsThe Notebook, The Time Traveller’s Wife) and reshaping crucial moments to turn him from bumbling buffoon to loveable Lothario amid a plethora of soundtrack treats.

Inevitably while Tim occupies himself with being a crafting Casanova, life is waiting to deal the cruelest of blows proving that even time travel can’t help you escape the personal tragedies that life sneaks in.

Although some of the screenplay feels mildly recycled (such as a dress-changing scene which has worn thinner than any shabby dresses featured), it is the participants who stop this film from being a victim of an ironic déjà vu.

Gleeson shines, sparring well with McAdams and Nighy, his comedic timing in perfect rhythm. Thankfully, although the love story holds a large focus of the piece and focus of Tim’s time-travelling gifts, Curtis has stayed true to his original message and the father-son relationship crafted by Gleeson and Nighy is exquisitely held at centre stage, the pair perfectly suited to each other on screen. Indeed it is this pairing which produces two powerhouse performances where Gleeson and Nighy are on a stellar par.

The on-screen chemistry between the cast is tangible even if some of the roles such as Tim’s slightly barmy Uncle Desmond (Richard CorderyLes Miserablés) and wild child sister ‘Kit Kat’ (Lydia WilsonBlack Mirror) appear rather thin and insubstantial despite prompting some of the key and more poignant moments.

His mother (Lindsay DuncanBlack Mirror) is perfectly portrayed as the calm amid the sea of chaos that swirls her family life and balances loving mother with devoted wife heartbreakingly well despite limited screen time.

About Time gives a glimpse of how we should live, savouring each moment and paying little regard to the small stresses and strifes life throws at us all. As the film quotes from Baz Luhrmann’s ‘’s Free (to wear sunscreen)’, “The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind” and  Curtis’s latest, and possibly last, offering delivers this message through a brilliant – albeit imperfect – feature.

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