Britflix: About Time
Richard Curtis is known as one of the greats of British comedy and rom-coms, creating characters like Blackadder and Mr Bean and writing and directing Love Actually
. Curtis has announced he is planning retire from directing and he takes a more serious turn with his ‘last’ movie, About Time
Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) is a 21-year-old Cornish man who is unlucky in love and lives his dad (Bill Nighy), Mom (Lindsay Duncan), kooky sister Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson) and Uncle Desmond (Richard Cordery), the least intelligent man you will ever meet. After a disastrous New Year’s Eve party Tim’s father tells his son all the male in the family can travel back in time, all they need to do is go into a dark spot, concentrate and then they can go back to any point of his life. When Tim finds out about his powers he moves to London to start his career as a barrister and find a girlfriend. He finds his soul-mate in the form of Mary (Rachel McAdams) and he does everything he can to win her over.
Despite About Time
’s billing as a romantic-comedy it's really a drama that has some comedy in it. The comedy for the most part is gentle in nature, revolving about some witty line, awkward moments and character interactions. Gleeson does let out his inner Hugh Grant, as he's awkward and easily flustered before being able to go back in time to rewrite his mistakes. Much of the humor comes from the time traveling antics that Gleeson.
does have a fine cast supporting cast, but they're used to various success. Tom Hollander was the best as a highly aggressive, easily angered playwright who was the most fouled mouth of all the characters. Nighy is his professional self, as a more restrained character, while still having some decent lines. But Wilson’s character can easily be defined as kooky or quirky and the character of Uncle Desmond is a one joke character that he is not particularly smart and he could have been cut out of the movie.
At times About Time
did seem like it was going to have a theme about fate and destiny and that some actions are pre-determined, no matter what is altered. A case in point is when Tim keeps meeting with his old crash played Margot Robbie. But all of that is undercut, particularly when Tim can manipulate events and when he is having to court Mary over and over again, coming across as the time-traveling stalker.
Curtis has had a great career as a writer but as a director, he sometimes lacks restraint with About Time
, a film that ends up
being too long and overly sentimental. Curtis wanted to emotionally manipulate the audience into his way of thinking as he lays on his message of living life to the full, particularly in the final act.
About Time does struggle to find a narrative as it starts out to be rom-com with a sci-fi twist, before turning into a romance and finally being a story about Tim with his dad. There are twist and subplots on the way, with some clever concepts and unique looks on time travel: but a good 20 to 30 minutes could have been cut as the end just drags and drags.
is a solid effort from Curtis as it has a top cast with Gleeson and McAdams having strong chemistry together, which is what we want and expect from a romantic movie. The movie does offer some laughs and a tranquil piano heavy score from Nick Laird-Clowes with some decent pop music in the soundtrack. But this is a movie that is just too long and where many of the ideas could have effectively been done in a few short films.