January 15, 2014

About Time

Richard Curtis, 2013
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is informed by his father (Bill Nighy) on his 21st birthday that he has inherited the ability to go back in time. He can go back to any moment that he has lived as long as he goes into a dark place, and clinches his fists and thinks about where he wants to go. Constantly feeling disappointed with himself over his inability to find a good girl, he decides to use his special power to find that special someone.

Richard Curtis puts together a heartwarming story that combines time travel with the unlikely romance theme, sort of like if Groundhog Day and Say Anything had a baby. The English backdrop adds a distinct charm to the film, fueled by rich & witty dialogue. It takes the sentimental tone of Curtis' popular Love Actually and makes it much more personal. You are introduced to Tim's fun-loving family very early on in the picture, and when Tim is pulled into the den to be told of his ability by his father, you get a clear sense that they are always having fun with each other. Tim initially assumes he's joking about the multi-generational family secret. He soon finds he is not, and wants to immediately travel back to clear up some social missteps that he had made that have been haunting him ever since. Tim possesses a certain charisma to him, which draws sympathy early on. His early social mishaps are painful to watch (like awkwardly avoiding the kiss at his family's New Years party), especially because he's a genuinely nice guy who simply lacks the moxie. His father asks him what he wants to use his ability for. There's an endless amount of morally questionable things he could do, but he simply wants the girl. He meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), who is insecure yet delightful. McAdams continues to prove that she's one of Hollywood's sweethearts, and really lights up this picture. And so the film plays out like a highlight reel of happiness with instant replay. The ability to correct life's worst moments, and possibly turn them into the greatest. And of course it's flawed; isn't EVERY time travel film flawed in one way or another? You have to let the imperfections go, and that's easy to do with this picture.

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