|Rachel McAdams (left) and Domnhall Gleeson (right) in ABOUT TIME|
Courtesy of Universal Pictures
2013, 123 minutes
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Review by Joshua Handler
A heartfelt film from a very talented director, About Time was written and directed by Richard Curtis (writer/director of Love Actually, writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill) and tells the story of a young man, Tim (Domnhall Gleeson), whose father (Bill Nighy) reveals to him that the men in his family can travel back in time. Tim soon falls in love with Mary (Rachel McAdams) and tries to figure out how best to use his new gift.
I will say this right here: the film is manipulative and the time travel rules aren't very strict. That being said, this is a wonderful film whose flaws are easily forgivable due to Curtis' obvious passion for the material and the strong performances from the entire cast.
While About Time has a time travel-based story, it is not the focus of the film as a whole. It is an instrument used to help the characters learn about themselves and how to live their lives - a very smart decision by Curtis. The schmaltziness of About Time results from Curtis' obvious love of his material, and while the film veers into tearjerking drama in the final third, it never feels forced. A particular scene late in the film's third act between Gleeson and Nighy is very powerful and clever and elicited an emotional response in my theater. Curtis cares about his characters and his important message and it always shows, no matter how sentimental the film gets.
Domnhall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams are truly fantastic in their respective roles. Gleeson brings a youthful innocence to Tim in the first half of the film and an impressive maturity in the second half. McAdams hasn't been this good in years. After countless thankless roles in which her talented is wasted, this is a big return to form for her. As Mary, McAdams is charming and irresistible. She made me fall completely in love with her. This is a really good role for McAdams, as it allows her to be a real, likable person unlike her other one-dimensional bitchy roles in films like Midnight in Paris. Bill Nighy is wonderful as Tim's father. There's not much more to say. Nighy is consistently strong in every one of his films and About Time is no exception. He brings a warmth and love to this role that really allows him to shine.
Overall, About Time is a charming and moving romantic dramedy with laughs, tears, and everything in between. If you loved Curtis' other films, you'll love this one. If not, stay far away. I completely fell for this one and appreciated the lesson that this film left me with.