Travel back in time to 1994 when worldwide audiences connected with the sweet, endearing story of a charming British man who fell in love with a trendy American gal in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Now travel forward a few years to 1999, when audiences cheered again as a British chap became besotted with an almost untouchable American woman in Notting Hill.
Now hop, skip and jump to 2013 where, in About Time, audiences can watch another slightly awkward, unlikely British charmer win over … wait for it … a spunky American girl.
Yes, writer-director Richard Curtis seems to follow a pattern and, ironically for a film about time travel, it feels familiar. But it works a treat. His latest film about love aims to please and does very well in its pursuit.
In About Time we meet Tim (Domnhall Gleeson), who at age 21 is told by his father (a heart-warming turn from the usually very wry Bill Nighy) that the men in their family have a very important ability: they can travel through time.
There are a few “rules”, of course, and with this in mind, a disbelieving Tim gives it a go. To his astonishment, it works. His journey of time-travel begins with one initial goal in mind: to get a girlfriend.
It isn’t long before Tim leaves idyllic Cornwall for the big smoke in London, where he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), the one woman he will do anything to win over. This isn’t the first time McAdams has played the love match to a time-travelling partner – she also starred in The Time Traveller’s Wife – but the tone of this film is very different and she is simply charming.
The concept of time travel has been explored countless times in film, and as always, both sceptics and enthusiasts are bound to find holes in the very simple concept. Perhaps it’s best not to pick over details such as the butterfly effect and some of the choices Tim makes.
With magnificent supporting performances from actors such as Lindsay Duncan as “Mum” and Tom Hollander as Tim’s neurotic playwright/live-in landlord, the characters radiate warmth and charm, even when the words coming out of their mouths are not so sweet.
The story spans several years, ensuring there is more space for Tim’s non-linear adventures and quests to improve both his life and those around him. Both Cornwall and London provide the backdrop for most of the story, and look spectacular on the big screen.
Gleeson – who played Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter films and gave a captivating performance as Levin in Anna Karenina – is on the screen as Tim for almost every scene. He explores his character’s very special relationship with his father well, portraying a guy you just want to reach out (and up, he’s a tall lad) to hug. It’s a performance that makes the film very enchanting indeed.
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