Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published October 5th 2013
Taking their sweet time
Director: Richard Curtis (Love Actually, The Boat That Rocked) Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy
Going out with a time traveller can be a tricky proposition, just ask Rachel McAdams. She's already endured The Time Traveller's Wife and Midnight in Paris. Now it's deja vu all over again with About Time.
Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson meet cute - over and over
For some reason it's always the men that do the time travelling, and About Time continues that tradition. Early on Bill Nighy, playing a mischievous, upper middle-class, free-thinking type (now there's a change) explains to his son that all the men in the family can travel in time, but only backwards within their own lifetimes. The possibilities, of course, are endless, although such nefarious plans as getting rich or being a bludger are quickly snuffed out. This is not a Limitless style power trip. This is a Richard Curtis film, writer of Notting Hill, Four Weddings and Bridget Jones' Diary, so naturally his alter ego is a hopeless romantic. This wish fulfilment of a film is all about love.
Bill Nighy and Domhnall Gleeson play a time travelling father and son
Words like cute and sweet will invariably be used to describe this film. For example, Bill Nighy's character spends all those extra hours reading books and spending time with his family. The central premise though concerns young Tim and the trickery he must perform to win over the love of his life, Mary. He constantly finds himself going back in time to make sure everything goes just right.
Not only do the wives miss out on the power to transport themselves in time, they don't even get told what's going on, presumably so the men can single handedly fiddle around with their destiny. Even Bill Murray had the decency to fess up to Andie McDowell in Groundhog Day.
These are essentially nice people though. Everyone's nice, except the cameraman who couldn't be bothered getting a tripod. The film has the most annoying case of jittery cam, for no good reason. How can anyone think this enhances a film? It doesn't make it look more realistic. It doesn't make me feel like I'm there in the room with the characters, because if I was, I wouldn't be shaking my head around like a giraffe having a seizure.
The performances are all good, Domhnall Gleeson (son of Brendan Gleeson) has an appealing presence, and McAdams is lovely as always. As with all Richard Curtis films, there's a large supporting cast and the accent is on family and friends almost as much as the central romance.
There are nice ideas injected into the script, at one point Tim takes the advice of his father and, for a stretch, lives every day twice - the second time to just enjoy all the small things and not worry about what's going to happen.
Ultimately though, it's a high concept film that's low on long lasting rewards. It's "sweet".