Writer: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Four Weddings And A Funeral", "Notting Hill", "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Love Actually"
Time-travel movies always leave much to be desired, simply because the practice leaves itself open to paradoxes such as the famous grandfather paradox, inconsistent causal loop and consistent causal loop. Many movies have attempted this and failed, with "The Butterfly Effect" (2004) and "The Time Traveler's Wife" (2009) being the most recent examples.
However, Richard Curtis' "About Time" tries to avoid those tiresome issues by focusing his story on that of a father-and-son relationship and a young man's coming-of-age. The film tells the story of Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson), who, at the age of 21, is told by his father that the men in his family has the ability to travel back in time to any given point in his life to redo it. Tim uses his ability to first go back to the night of a recent New Year's Eve party where at midnight he was too shy to kiss someone and goes for the kiss instead and eventually, to win the heart of his true love, Mary (Rachel McAdams in yet another time travel movie).
"About Time" bears almost all of Curtis signatures, such as the Hugh Grant cinematic persona, the beautiful American love interest, the array of quirky supporting characters you will either endear to or smack in the face, the "there's something in my eye" emotional moments, swearing and of course, rain. Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, whom few may know as Bill Weasley in "Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows" and actor Brendan Gleeson's son, is best summarised as a ginger Hugh Grant. He may not have the outward charm or natural comic timing that Grant has, but as the film goes on, Gleeson's innate charm shines through and his terrific chemistry with McAdams is awkward, funny and lovely to watch all at once.
As Tim's romance with Mary is pretty much sealed within the first half of the film and there is nothing new in McAdams playing the girl-next-door-you'd-love-to-marry, the star pairing of the film is, without a doubt, Gleeson and Bill Nighy as father and son, a relationship that is felt throughout the entire film. It is their relationship, played as a mix of gruffness, understanding and affection that elevates their last scene together into something wonderful that stands in beautifully in the absence of a dramatic climax. Nighy, who first worked with Curtis in "Love Actually " and stole the show as the aging rock and roll legend Billy Mack, is again one of the reasons why the film works, as he exudes his usual charisma as the scatty British Dad whose joy in life is reading and hanging out with his son.
Then there is the film's soundtrack, although memorable, can't help but feel as if its wholly pandering to the chick flick crowd, belting out sugary classic and contemporary tunes such as Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You", The Cure's "Friday I'm In Love", Amy Winehouse's "Back To Black" and of course, Waterboys' "How Long Will I Love You", which also serves as the movie's theme song. It is not so much that the songs are unsuitable for the occasion that the fact that they fit so snugly as to be cliche, that it almost comes as a shock that they did not use The Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand" for Tim's wedding.
"About Time" is more than just a time-travel rom-com, although it does not really ask you as many questions as you might think, given that it is, after all, a Richard Curtis film. In that same vein, it is Curtis' most mature film to date, with a good message at the centre of the picture and a commendable cast, especially Gleeson and Nighy, not to mention that it is also smart, funny and moving. "About Time" has a heart, but its pacing never elevates beyond a relaxed rate.
Random trivia: At the end of the movie, Rory (Joshua McGuire) is reading the novel "Trash" by Andy Mulligan, which is Curtis' next film writing effort.Cinema Online, 17 September 2013