So I watched About Time…
This is perhaps one of the most emotionally devastating films I’ve ever watched. Not because it’s overly-dramatic or has a morose ending or even because it’s an emotional whirlwind. The beauty of this film and the weight it carries is in its restraint and it’s ability to show how extraordinary the ordinary can be.
Okay, basic plot: After turning twenty-one, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) learns, from his father, that the men in his family have the ability to travel in time. At first he thinks it a joke but soon discovers it to be true. His father (Bill Nighy) advises him to use this power not for money or fame but to change his life in a way that will really make him happy. Tim immediately decides to use his new found time travelling abilities to find love. He meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and with his ability to relive every moment and make it perfect begins a beautiful love story with her.
This film is not your typical romcom. Most romcoms move from point A to B; with A being the point where two people meet and B being the point where our two leads eventually succumb to love and have a happy ending that usually involves kisses in the rain or grand speeches in a church. About Time has a point A and B but it also has a point C. Point C being what happens after the ending of most romcoms – the ordinary life of marriage and children that our two leads need to settle into. Now this may sound mundane but this film presents it with such humour and authenticity that the seemingly ‘mundane’ becomes spellbinding and filled with more entertainment than you ever thought possible.
This is due to Richard Curtis’ fantastic work from both behind the screenwriter’s desk and in the director’s chair. Now this isn’t Curtis’ first foray into the world of romance with him having worked on films like Four Weddings and A Funeral, Notting HIll, Love Actually and Bridget Jones’s Diary but this is by far my favourite piece of work he’s produced in this genre. The beauty of this film is in how genuine and grounded it is. How it manages to present the ordinary happenings of life as grand and momentous. As Tim explores the possibilities of how time travel can shape his life, he learns to appreciate the beauty of the life he’s living and that it often doesn’t need to be re-lived or altered; but stands perfectly as is. There’s a wonderful quote at the end of this film that sums this all up wonderfully, it’s in fact one of my favourite quotes of all time, “We’re all traveling through time together, every day of our lives. All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride.”
This film also has a fantastic cast at its disposal. I think this was the first film I’d ever seen Domhnall Gleeson in and he’s been cemented as one of my favourite actors ever since. Gleeson’s performance epotomises everything that’s wonderful about this film. He has this genuine, loveable spirit and manages to reach that perfect point of awkward swagger that most nerds in romcoms require. Opposite Gleeson is the amazingly talented Rachel McAdams. I think she’s one of Hollywood’s most underrated commodities and seeing her performance in films like this leaves you wondering why you aren’t seeing her face in more and more movie posters as the leading lady. She’s absolutely brilliant in this film and she compliments Gleeson perfectly. The two as a couple work together beautifully and you never doubt that the pair are in love.
Bill Nighy also deserves special mention for his work as Tim’s father. This film isn’t merely a romcom but rather a display of the beauty of having love in your life. Not only love from a partner but also family and friends. Tim’s relationship with his father is a major pillar upon which this film is built and Nighy does wonderful work as this film’s patriarch. The chemistry between him and Gleeson is palpable and their bond undoubtable. Though the entire cast is brilliant and honestly, they mesh together perfectly like cogs in a machine.
Another area where this film deserves praise for its restraint and authenticity is in its soundtrack. Often you’ll find romcoms packed with pop songs to beat us over the head with whatever emotion we’re meant to be feeling during a particular scene. This film’s score comprises mostly of instrumental compositions which I loved. It guides you along an emotional path instead of forcing you down a road you might not have been ready to travel upon. The one song it does use is ‘How Long Will I Love You’ as performed by Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney and Ben Coleman. This song was made famous by Ellie Goulding but I love the version in this film. It feels stripped of pretense and – like the rest of the film – is extraordinary because it focuses on the ordinary.
Overall, I love About Time. Watching it now it still is as emotionally hard-hitting and profound as it was the first time I saw it in 2013. It’s a wonderfully made film from start to finish and will leave you appreciating the little things in your life. It’s absolutely brilliant and worth watching 10/10