Whenever someone asks me what my favorite movie is, I always say “Requiem for a Dream” or “The Graduate,” but part of me always enjoys a quirky, witty romantic comedy. It’s pretty rare for me to come across such a film, as most romantic comedies nowadays are dumbed down and leave something (well, everything) to be desired. “About Time,” however, hit the nail on the head. For the most part.
Directed by Richard Curtis (“Notting Hill” and “Love Actually”), the film follows Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), a young British man who has an ideal life, living with his loving family and taking frequent trips to the beach. But on his 21st birthday, Tim is told by his father (Bill Nighy) that all of the men in his family can travel through time.
Being a quirky romantic comedy, of course, Tim decides to use his newfound ability to aid him in the quest for true love. Along his journey he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), a bookish American whom he falls in love with and eventually marries. By the end of the movie, Tim learns how and when to use time travel, and how to appreciate both the amazing and the ordinary things in life.
I walked into “About Time” with only a vague memory of a preview I’d seen in July, remembering that it looked sweet. And going into the movie with only a vague idea of its plot was the best way to do it, because I had no idea what to expect. In the first few minutes, the film won me over by playing Ben Folds’ “The Luckiest,” which happens to be one of my favorite songs. The unconventional humor kept me entertained through the film (usually based on Tim’s awkwardness), and the love story was sweet without being sickening.
The film is essentially split into two parts: the first about Tim’s journey to find love, and the second about his relationship with his father. Both parts were equally entertaining, though I had a difficult time discerning the climax of the movie.
My biggest problem with the movie (of which there are very few) is that the mechanics of time travel are left unclear. Yes, only the men in the family can time travel, no, you can’t travel into the future, etc. But the audience is never given a reason why. Time travel is obviously used as a plot device to carry the film’s message, and it makes me wonder whether time travel was even necessary at all.
“About Time” is both a movie everyone has seen, and one no one has. The time travel aspect, the romance and the overdone message are all too common in modern cinema. The quirky humor and cinematography, however, set it apart. Gleeson and Nighy shine, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Gleeson becomes a favorite among the teenaged Anglophile crowd. Myself included.
Part of “About Time’s” message can ultimately be applied to the film itself: you can’t always go back and change what you don’t like, but you have to learn to appreciate the bigger picture.