NYFF 2013: “About Time” – Review by MovieManMenzel

About Time welivefilm

Richard Curtis crafts another fine film about life, love, and family.

About Time on the surface looks like a time traveling romantic comedy that we have all seen before, but by the time the film comes to a close it becomes something so much more than that, at least to me that is. The film is about a guy named Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), who on his 21st birthday learns that he possesses the ability to time travel. When his father (Bill Nighy) tells him this news, he at first doesn’t believe a word of it, but it isn’t long before he attempts to time travel. Once he does, he begins to change things in his life so that they work in his favor.

Right off the bat, I need to admit that I am a huge fan of director/writer Richard Curtis. This man has written some great comedies that include Love Actually, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and even Bean and Mr. Bean’s Holiday. At this stage in his career, I can safely say that Richard Curtis knows romance as well as comedy, but with About Time, he adds something new into the mix.

If you have seen the trailer for this film, you probably will expect something like the following: The film’s lead character Tim is a hopeless romantic, who is just awful at talking to the ladies. He messes up with a variety of ladies and but ultimately meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), who he deems as “the one.” As soon as everything seems to be coming together, something happens between the two of them, which leads to a conflict. By the end of the film it gets resolved and they live happily ever after or one of them dies.  Now without spoiling anything, I will simply say that some of this happens while other parts of it does not. How about that teaser to make you want to see the film?

To be honest, what I loved most about the film was not the romance nor the comedy, but ultimately what the film had to say about life in general. About Time says a lot about life if you actually pay attention to the messages within the film. It has plenty to say about life, but what it ultimately in my eyes is that you have to take the good days along with the bad and make the most out of the life that you are given.  I am one of those people who hate it when people, play the victim always or live their lives as if everyday is the worst day of their lives. I just have a very low tolerance for a person who constantly wants others to feel bad for them. I think that’s why I loved the messages within the film.

There is one point in the film where Tim begins to start living each day twice. The first time he views it as just part of his normal routine and just complains and seems unhappy, but the second time, he views it for what it really is. We all know there are good days and bad days in life and what this film basically says is that you have to make your life worth living. It doesn’t do this in a preachy manor either but rather very subtlety as the film’s story unfolds.

Now not only does the film talk about that but it also addresses the idea of living in the past and holding onto things.  I don’t want to go into too much detail because I would hate to spoil this film, but lets just say that as the film progresses there are so many personal messages that Curtis is trying to convey with this story that seem very personal to him.  To put it simply, this is more than just your time travel romance film; it’s a film about appreciating those in your life and living each day to the fullest.

As far as the performances go, I really dug Domhnall Gleeson as Tim. There will be some, however, who will label him as a uninteresting character because of how innocent he is, but for me it allowed me to connect with him and understand what he was going through. He was definitely the “nice guy” and the events that played out throughout this film showcases him as this lovable guy with a kind heart. There will be people who say that it isn’t realistic in terms of what a real guy would do, but I beg to differ. I think he is presented in a realistic light and his actions are very similar to what my actions would be if I were in a similar situation.

Alongside Gleeson, you have a great supporting cast that consists of the always wonderful Bill Nighty, Lydia Wilson as Tim’s sister Kit-Kat, and of course, Rachel McAdams as Mary.

Nighty, just like most films that he has appeared in, steals the show from almost everyone else on screen. He is just so likable as Tim’s father and their chemistry with one another is perfect.  The relationship between Tim and his father is very important to the story so its great to see how well it works and how many laughs and even tears are to be had from the interactions between these two.

Lydia Wilson as Tim’s sister Kit-Kat was a great addition to the cast. I say this simply because of what the film did with the character. Kit Kat is the attractive smart girl, who always fails for the bad guy. Now, while that might seem clichéd, lets be honest most women do have stories like this and most women can relate to her. I think what made this work so well for me, however, was how well the script shaped her as a character and how it made her so likable. She really played a big part in Tim’s life, which made her so important to Tim.

As for Rachel McAdams, I have to admit that her character Mary was the type of woman, who would fall for a guy like Tim. It’s not like in most movies where a dorky looking guy is looking for love and all of a sudden this hot girl falls for him. Mary is a character, who is extremely awkward and dorky, which fits Tim perfectly and I feel that is what made the relationship work and believable. Earlier in the film, the story tries to suggest that Tim likes someone else, but it just doesn’t fit because it’s the typical hot girl likes dorky guy scenario, which happens only in the movies.

Another thing about Mary is that she is not someone who serves as the primary focus of the film as odd as that sounds. She plays an important role into how the story moves along and gives it some meaning, but she is more of a secondary character as the film unfolds. I personally really liked that simply because it surprised me. I think when she is on-screen, she is good and her personality definitely made Mary likable, but I like that there was more to the film then just a love story.

Lastly, before I bring this review to a close, I need to point out that for a movie about time travel, it is never really talked about by any of the film’s characters besides Tim and his dad and is setup as a plot device where no one can know about it.  Its strange that even though this point is mentioned that no one other than one character outside Tim and his father knows about this and that isn’t until near the end of the film, and who finds out about it isn’t expected. I am glad the film kind of just uses the time traveling storyline simply to add to the story and its overall meaning rather than explain it and have several of the characters find out about it. I think it worked really well with the events that unfolded as the film went on.

All in all, I can see how About Time may not appeal to everyone, but those who are looking for a romance film that has some substance and layers to it, I have to highly recommend this one. While it does have its moments where it’s predictable initially, during the films second half it went places that I didn’t expect it to go. The movie is rather heartfelt, touching, and even, emotional at times. My fiancée and her friend were with me at the screening and they were all balling near the close of the film. I personally loved the messages that the film conveyed to its audience even though I can see how a lot of people will just view this as another love story, but for me it was something more than that.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for About Time is an 8 out of 10.

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