One would expect nothing less than a charming and quintessentially British romantic comedy from Richard Curtis, and that is exactly what you get from About Time. Underlined with subtle humour, Curtis surpasses our expectations with this wonderful story involving time-travel managing to get the balance right between a Doctor Who sci-fi side and a sentimental romance without having some kind of warped alien cross-genre nightmare.
Domhnall Gleeson, Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams star in this seemingly ordinary life of Tim (Gleeson). He has a family we immediately fall in love with, who have afternoon tea on the beach everyday (they live in Cornwall), watch films outside whatever the weather and are the epitome of British eccentricity. With a mother (Lindsay Duncan) whose fashion icon is the Queen, and a loveable free-spirited sister, it is the relationship between Gleeson’s and Nighy’s characters which is the focal point of this film.
Upon turning 21, Tim finds out the family secret: he’s a time traveller. We wait with baited breath for Dad to come out with all this spew about paradoxes and limitations and information we could do without- fortunately Curtis saves us from the mumbo jumbo, however that is not to say that Tim’s time travelling never has consequences or different outcomes depending on what he changes. Tim’s reaction to this pretty cool news, is that it could be really great if it could help me get a girlfriend- oh dear, please not a ginger Hugh Grant. Fear not, our hopeless Casanova does not spend the next hour and a half re-doing every moment, each time losing comic effect and our patience to eventually get the girl (McAdams). About Time story is different because we are lead to believe that Tim’s motivation is out of love, for love; which it is, but not just for a partner, it is for family and particularly the last few precious moments we cling onto before tragedy strikes. And it’s the foundational relationship of father and son, which makes About Time so refreshingly different from similar films such as The Time Traveller’s Wife (also starring McAdams coincidentally).
To compliment Curtis’s stellar cast is an incredible soundtrack, which miraculously voices our emotions, heightening them so you find yourself not the only one wiping away a few tears and blowing your nose into a hankie. However as Tim finds out, time isn’t limitless, even if you can travel and change it. This idea of ‘time running out’ is so applicable to our society, as we become consumed with making money and gaining material success that we occasionally forget to live and enjoy it with the people most important to us.