Release Date: September 4th, 2013 (UK); November 8th, 2013 (US)
Genre: Comedy; Drama; Science-fiction
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy
It does not take long for Richard Curtis’ newest comedy About Time to have viewers grinning from ear-to-ear as any narrative inconsistencies take a back seat, allowing the film’s engaging characters to dominate the screen in a funny, genuine and well-meaning cinematic offering.
The writer and occasional director of romantic comedies such as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually is no stranger to the genre, but here Curtis adds an extra dose of science-fiction to charge up proceedings. Domhnall Gleeson is Tim, an unpolished 21-year- old whose life takes an unexpected turn — literally — when his father tells him he can travel back in time. Gleeson’s relatively recent rise to prominence means his involvement here is fresh and feels organic, enabling the Irishman’s charm to resonate through both his awkwardness and authenticity.
Rachel McAdams endears as Gleeson’s other half Mary, and the two strike up an infectious dynamic immediately. It says a lot for both that their first scene together — which they spend shrouded in complete darkness — generates an instant connection. Bill Nighy is often the vessel through which emotion is emitted and the relationship he shares with his son Tim is utterly believable; a relationship that the film quite rightly depends on.
About Time is not without problems, although these inconveniences either subtly fix themselves or are quickly shielded by on-screen antics. The music intertwined throughout intentionally toys with the heartstrings (upbeat when happy, melancholic when sad) but nevertheless always finds an acceptable rhythm with events. The Groundhog Day-like premise is not original, but does not need to be when the focus is solely on the characters. Clichés are found wriggling around in various forms (“If we could travel back in time”), but unusually seem welcome.
Curtis ensures that the people depicted in About Time matter, creating a film which is lovable without being glamorous and one that always has its heart in the right place.