About Time

Posted on: 13th September 2013  |

Director: Richard Curtis
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Margot Robbie
UK Release date: 4 September 2013
Certificate: 12A (123 mins)

Every year, my children are drawn to the annual Walberswick Summer Fayre in Suffolk. Not only is it quintessentially English – dozens of stalls display things you don’t need being sold by people who didn’t want them in the first place – but it is also tombola-to-tombola full of film and TV celebrities. Walberswick is the summer home of Richard Curtis and his partner, Emma Freud. I take no pride in saying that in a head-to-head competition with a mallet and ball, my youngest son beat Richard Curtis’s son in a play-off for a sublime piece of Suffolk ham.

Family and friends are clearly important to Curtis, but this exceptional screenwriter, producer and director is often at the receiving end of chippy reviews and blatant resentment of his success. He followed his work as writer and producer of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary by directing 2003’s Love Actually, and his television work has matched his remarkable filmic success, with writing credits on, among others, the award-winning Blackadder and Vicar of Dibley series.

Curtis has a formula and it works. His latest offering, About Time, has all of his trusted ingredients: take a bunch of middle-class values, add a sprinkling of love interest, stir in some pain and sadness, and simmer quietly for two hours whilst a soporific narrator informs you of what you should be feeling and hearing.

His particular skill is in knowing how to interplay under-confident men with strong women, weaving in the ups and downs of family life so that there are characters to whom the audience can relate, whilst consistently throwing in a Shakespearean-style jester, more often than not a wayward sister.

About Time follows this formula but has an extra dimension: time travel. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson as Tim Lake, whose father (Bill Nighy) tells him at the age of 21 that the men in their family have always had the ability to time travel. Before you reach for your coat and dash for the nearest exit, bear with the story and suspend your belief: surprisingly, it works...as long as you don’t question it in too much detail. With more than a hint of Narnia, Tim can only go back in time if he goes into a cupboard or other small space and clenches his fists, imagining a period of time to which to travel.

Most of us would perhaps choose the opportunity to witness an incredible moment in history, but Tim returns to a recent New Year’s Eve party to kiss someone he had been too shy to kiss in real time.

As the story unfolds, we see the hapless Tim move from the Cornish coastline to start a career as a lawyer in London, where he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and falls in love. As their relationship develops the film becomes a cross between Groundhog Day and Love Actually. The twists and turns of the relationship are lightly played, but there is a more complex subplot of an under-confident man trying to control his emotional development and his relationships with others. The performances are clever, engaging and funny, and Bill Nighy is a treat.

Mary and Tim eventually marry, and Curtis does an outstanding job of depicting a wedding in torrential rain, which is very cleverly filmed. Tim’s attempts to control the lives of others give rise to unforeseen effects: his interference in the abusive relationship between his sister and her boyfriend ultimately results in a twist in the story and an alarming realisation about his use of time travel to go back to a time before his child was born.

There are two circumstances of life Tim cannot change by going backwards and forwards in time: the first is his father’s cancer, and the second is coping with death. As life becomes more complex, Tim becomes increasingly drawn to spending time with his father who dispenses the advice that forms the moral of the story: live each day as best you can, and embrace it for what it is and for those you are with.

If you plan to see this film at the cinema, the chances are you will enjoy it; but even if you don’t, be prepared to see it anyway on your TV screen for many Christmases to come.

Maybe at the next Walberswick Fayre, Curtis’s son will go back in time to improve his chances of winning that ham.

John-Paul Morrison

 Visit this film's official web site


About Time Official Trailer #1 (2013) - Rachel McAdams Movie HD


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