“About Time”, directed and written by Richard Curtis and starring Domnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, and Bill Nighy, tells the story of a young man named Tim who learns a surprising family secret: the males in his family can time travel. When his dad asks him what he wishes to change about his life, Tim says he wants to find love. The film follows his mistakes and triumphs in using his newly discovered ability and in learning about time.
The script actually surprised me. Based on the trailer and the blurb that describes the premise, you’d think this movie couldn’t be serious. In fact, you might think, “Oh, here’s another romantic comedy about time travel.” While in some aspects it is exactly that, I think that’s only one small aspect of it. It touches on other points like family, friends, and romance. I’d say one of the most lovely plot lines in the film is the relationship between Tim (Gleeson) and his dad (Nighy).
“It was the toughest decision of my life, saying yes to the future.”
While the screenplay has moments of charm and wit, there are parts that are just a little too awkward. Every time one of these ‘meh’ scenes is up, the film starts to lose my attention. Sometimes what’s meant to be endearing or quirky just doesn’t work. Also, because this film tries to cover so much time, we don’t get to know some characters who are meant to be vital to the plot. Indeed, one of the few well-rounded, fleshed out characters is Tim. So, the writing stumbles a bit in some spots.
Aside from the weak aspects of this script, the writing has moments of power. The message underneath the drama, the mistakes, and the tragedy, is what saves this movie. “About Time” shows us that while it’s okay to want to re-write or dwell in the past, we have to let go of that so we can really live. It’s okay to miss aspects of the past, but to choose that over the present and the future is to miss out on life. It’s also about learning how to let go of trying to control our lives. Now, that does sound philosophical, but the message isn’t portrayed in an obnoxious way.
“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.”
As for the acting, hands down Gleeson and Nighy did the best work. Gleeson is so good in this role that every thing he does seems so natural. Nighy is, of course, funny but also emotional. I’d say it’s one of Nighy’s best performances.
Overall, “About Time” is a nice film but some screenplay and acting issues detract from what is done well. If you are looking for a film that’s more about everyday life than science fiction, and has a strong overall message, then you may want to give this movie a chance.