<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Richard Curtis. Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Billy Nighy, Tom Hollander, Margot Robbie, Lydia Wilson, Vanessa Kirby
I was actually going to skip watching this film but a lonely weekend found me sauntering around Phoenix Mills and I decided it was this or the documentary Fire In The Blood. I chose About Time and it was time wonderfully spent.
I knew it was a romantic comedy and anything with Bill Nighy in it has to be at least half good. The lack of any romantic partner in my life and a somewhat melancholy mood drew me to About Time. I’m a fan of Brit humour – not everyone gets it but thankfully us Indian audiences do – and was prepared for a light-hearted rom-com in the vein of Love, Actually or Notting Hill (both also by director Richard Curtis). What I watched was something totally different and refreshing.
Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) is a shy, sometimes bumbling young 21-year-old with ginger hair who has lived in an idyllic mansion on a beach in Cornwall, England. On his coming-of-age birthday his father, played by Bill Nighy, tells Timmy a family secret: all the men in their line can magically transport themselves into the past by time travel! You’d think the plot would certainly go awry at this point but that’s the beauty of British Sci-fi. It’s just a device.
Of course, Timmy can only go back in time and only to places that are connected to his life. There are one or two other caveats but you can watch the film to find out. Now the quest begins for Timmy who must try and use his newfound power to win over a girlfriend. His first attempt to woo over his sister Kit-Kat’s (Lydia Wilson) best friend Charlotte (Margot Robbie) doesn’t pan out, well at least not initially. So after Timmy moves to London to start his career as a lawyer he finds a girl called Mary (Rachel McAdams). And there is something about Mary that Timmy can’t get over.
I must say that I was smiling throughout the film, partly because of the witty dialogue and partly because of the innocent playfulness of this couple. Domhnall Gleeson is unknown to most of us but after About Time I’m thinking we’ll be seeing more of him. The effortless bumbling charm and sparkle in those eyes make him highly watchable. Rachel McAdams (who I bears a striking resemblance to Jennifer Garner) as Tim’s sweet if somewhat clueless American girlfriend plays the part. But it is probably the relationship that Tim has with his father (who can also time travel) that is the most poignant here.
About Time isn’t about the time travel really but when it is used it’s absolutely hilarious at times and enchantingly touching at others. In the hands of Hollywood this premise would be totally massacred – as it was in The Time Travelers Wife (which also starred Rachel McAdams).
There’s this brilliant scene in About Time shot in a theme restaurant that is completely dark. The interaction between Tim and Mary on a mostly dark screen is applause-worthy. In fact, there are so many scenes where you will be surprised and want to clap at the genius that never lets you guess what is to come next.
I know everyone is raving about Gravity, and it is indeed a beautifully made film and a thrill ride but you won’t really remember it after you leave the theatre. About Time has a lot more emotional depth to it with a message so wisely constructed – without being too preachy – about living each day with relish.
PS: Watch the Trailer!