About Time

by ameliareviews

* Well hello everyone! I am back from all my various travels and have finally found some things to review so expect this and a review of Peter and the Starcatcher in the not too distant future. I feel like I say this too much but be warned, there is the odd plot spoiler. I’ll try my hardest not to make them too big*

It's not the time travel that is unrealistic, it's how happy people look in the rain.

It’s not the time travel that is unrealistic, it’s how happy people look in the rain.

I love Richard Curtis. I felt it was best to open with this because it is a truth that I can’t ignore. His body of work has brought me an unnatural amount of joy over the years, from the first time I watched Love Actually, aged 10, in a cinema with my parents when I definitely shouldn’t have been (we lived in Italy where they are far less strict about film ratings and my mum hadn’t realised that the opening sentence would contain the words fuck, shit, arse head and hole) to one of the most beautiful Doctor Who episodes of recent years. So with such an illustrious oeuvre behind him, I was very excited to see the latest offering from House Curtis.  Whilst About Time is far from as strong as Four Weddings, it’s not all bad. There is plenty here to be enjoyed and the film is a prime example of an excellent Sunday night film, best enjoyed with a glass of wine and probably some cake.

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There are a few negatives to be addressed but they in no way diminish the positives. Firstly, although it is a fun concept, the time travel element does fall down at certain times, not quite managing to make sense and appearing to disobey its own rules. These times are spoilery so I shan’t go into further details but these niggling little problems played on my mind throughout the film.The second main flaw of the piece was the one dimensionality of Rachel McAdams’ character, Mary. Despite being in the majority of the film, besides her liking Kate Moss and her job as a reader at a publisher I felt like we knew nothing about her. She became merely symbolic, just an image that protagonist Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) fantasised about instead of a well rounded and interesting character. Everything she did went via Tim, not even letting herself make decisions about her own wedding. Her character is flat and rather uninteresting with very little scope for the comedic performances we know  Rachel McAdams is capable of (just look at her in Mean Girls).  Of course she does have her charming and funny moments but I felt disappointed with the lack of character development. There is one final thing that annoyed me which is only small but I couldn’t get it out of my head. There’s a moment in which Tim meets an old flame of his outside the National Theatre and she tells him that she told her friend to go and have dinner by herself which leads Tim to then bin off his own friend. WHO ON EARTH DOES THIS IN REAL LIFE?! If my friend told me to go and have dinner by myself I would resolutely tell them to fuck off and go home. Couldn’t they all just have had dinner together? A prime example of how to be a really shitty friend. But I think that’s a more personal criticism, I just get super annoyed with that sort of thing.

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As I said, it’s not all bad with About Time. In fact once you look past the flat character and the glitchy time travel it is really rather good. For one thing, Domhnall Gleeson is just lovely. I mean really lovely. And added bonus, he’s played a Weasley, I instantly like all Weasleys.  He makes Tim gloriously funny and a sweetheart. Granted (no pun intended) there are some similarities between Gleeson’s character and the characters Hugh Grant played in previous Richard Curtis movies but it’s not so similar that you feel that you are watching Hugh Grant 2.0.  He is the heart and soul of this film and is downright charming. He fills the screen with an inescapable warmth and you feel that you are on his side. Gleeson has impeccable comic timing and lifts some of the more cliched jokes into genuinely chucklesome moments. A special favourite is an awkward altercation with a very hot girl and a spurty bottle of suncream. Tim is an entirely different role from the last that I saw him in, the hardy and romantic Levin in Anna Karenina and he excels at both comedy and drama. He’s got the makings of a leading man and I can’t wait to see more from him and his marvellous ginger hair.

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 About Time is peppered with some wonderful comic turns from a supporting cast who aren’t always given enough to do. For example, Tom Hollander does what Tom Hollander does best, turning up for a few scenes and stealing them from right underneath everyone’s noses.  He plays Harry, an angry, genius playwright with a penchant for swearing and having a rather scruffy beard. A particular favourite of mine is  his best man speech, so rude that it is immediately cut short by Tim’s gift to be replaced by a rather heart warming one, delivered by his dad (Bill Nighy). On the female side we have Vanessa Kirby as Mary’s insane friend Joanna who is 100% a friend I would like to have. She’s loud, she’s funny and she says that Tim has fun hair. Instantly likeable in an unlikeable sort of way, Joanna is one character who I was longing to have more screen time, easily one of the funniest. And because I love him I have to give a little mention to Joshua McGuire as Rory, a work friend who, although sweet, is rather weird and a bit of a loser. A cute role, McGuire is another that I wish had had more screen time, simply because I love seeing his curly hair and freckled face.

Despite its faults, About Time is a film with its heart in the right place. It made me laugh out loud throughout, something that many comedies haven’t achieved recently and it is on just the right side of sentimental. The message is one that I related to, especially in a modern world where everything seems to rush by so fast. We must relish life and appreciate what we have, and any film which encourages people to do that is not bad in my book.

About Time is in UK cinemas now

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