About Time (12A)

Film

Comedy

About Time

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

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Time Out says

Fri Aug 9 2013

Richard Curtis has become a byword for everything in British cinema that’s safe, stuttery, gently amusing, occasionally teary and ten steps to the left of real. The familiarity of his new film, the cosy and evangelical ‘About Time’, will please fans as much as it irritates detractors. And it will be a relief to anyone who suffered the excruciating gags-to-laughs ratio of his super-indulgent ‘The Boat that Rocked’.

‘About Time’ is a light-touch comedy, not free of sentimentality, about a young man, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), from a wealthy, boho background in Cornwall, who bumbles his way through life and love but who has a power inherited from his dad (Bill Nighy): he can hold his eyes shut and go back in time.

This touch of magic is handy when Tim, newly moved to London, says the wrong thing to a girl or wants to give sex a second go. But he can’t change the major stuff (births, death) and, in Curtis’s hands, time travel is really a way of learning how to live a better life. (Strangely, though, we’re not meant to think there’s anything creepy about being a puppetmaster with people’s lives.) The sort-of superpower helps him get together with Mary (Rachel McAdams), an American with an odd obsession with Kate Moss, and the film takes us a few years into their relationship – with some bumps to negotiate, naturally.

Curtis know-it-alls will have fun ticking off the characters and flourishes that re-emerge from earlier films. Gleeson, obviously, is the Curtis alter ego played by Hugh Grant in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘Love, Actually’. There’s the crazy housemate (Tom Hollander, funny as a surly playwright); there’s the kooky, damaged woman close to the main character (Lydia Wilson playing Tim’s troubled sister, Kit Kat). There’s even a new version of the scene in Portobello Road in ‘Notting Hill’ where the seasons quickly pass by: here, it’s Tim and Mary walking past by the same tube buskers time and time again in different clothes.

There’s something of the trendy village vicar about Curtis’s view of British life: essentially conservative but not averse to the odd strum of a guitar. Like a well-worn sermon newly peppered with groovier words, ‘About Time’ is an update of Curtis’s earlier films for a generation of filmgoers now used to playful takes on genres and weeping at John Lewis ads set in tastefully tatty, upscale redbrick suburban homes. It’s oddly comforting. Yet there’s also a messiness to the storytelling that’s offputting and the humour is patchy. Curtis also has a knack of colliding the poignant with the trite. One minute characters are spouting TS Eliot. The next someone is quoting Baz Luhrmann’s pop song about sunscreen as if its wisdom is carved in stone.

The relationship between Tim and his dad is tender, and the film deals warmly with ideas of moving on and letting go. But still, the only genuinely, properly moving scene comes unintentionally and courtesy of a cameo by the late, great Richard Griffiths. He’s playing an actor filling out a dressing-room chair, his eyes squinting with tiredness as if he’s just been freed from a cave after years captive. Such a moment only shows up the shallowness of much of the sentiment at play.

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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Wed Sep 4, 2013

Duration:

123 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Richard Curtis

Screenwriter:

Richard Curtis

Cast:

Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Domhnall Gleeson, Tom Hollander

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|12
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Marisa

In opposition to most reviews, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I loved Gleeson's character, and will always love Bill Nighy. Although it did run long in my book, I did enjoy how awkwardly naive Tim was, and wish there were more people like him in the world: http://bit.ly/1gyrK9J

Bowler's steering lock

Not a patch on 4 weddings, I did not laugh out loud once? Why did Tim's sister and wife have some very bad hair moments??? On the plus side, the concept was interesting and Bill Nighy is brill in anything. It was also very poignant in parts and I loved the scenes in the sandwich shop where Tim is polite but distracted and rushed, and then he 'corrects' himself in the revisited scene and find behaviour breeds behaviour. That touched a nerve with me! Yes I want some escapism, but mix it in with some realism and credibility as Curtis lives in a London I don't recognise, that's litter and chav free for starters....

DebJR

I don't care about how silly it was or how messy the storyline was in places, I genuinely really enjoyed the film and so did everyone else coming out of my showing. I thought it was funny, moving, well written and well, it was warm. It was a film where you could snuggle into your cinema chair, switch off from daily life and enjoy a really well made and moving film. I have no problem forgiving it for it's slight plot issues in places because it more than made up for them with wonderful acting and a great heart to it's story. Don't be put off by the bad reviews, make your own mind up but I'd highly recommend it!

DebJR

I don't care about how silly it was or how messy the storyline was in places, I genuinely really enjoyed the film and so did everyone else coming out of my showing. I thought it was funny, moving, well written and well, it was warm. It was a film where you could snuggle into your cinema chair, switch off from daily life and enjoy a really well made and moving film. I have no problem forgiving it for it's slight plot issues in places because it more than made up for them with wonderful acting and a great heart to it's story. Don't be put off by the bad reviews, make your own mind up but I'd highly recommend it!

Daisy Crisp

The eternal romantic Richard Curtis re-emerges to take us on a wistful walk down memory lane with an unexpected detour in his latest rom-com, About Time. Those familiar with Curtis’s previous greats, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill & Love Actually, will know that he continually champions one almighty cause- the right to fight for love. About Time is no different, echoing the same tender sentiment, screaming familiarity in more ways than one- the gawky leading man Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is essentially a straight swap for Hugh Grant- bursting at the seams with that charmingly befuddled bumbling Britishness we know so well. The deja vu inducement doesn’t stop at its characters -keep an eye out for the kooky –yet-damaged female played by Tim’s quirky sister Kit Kat and the mentally deranged housemate expertly executed by Tom Hollander. Yet, of course comfort can be sought through familiarity, and there is something devoutly soothing about escaping to Curtis’s romanticised world. When Tim’s cool-cat dad (Bill Nighy) tells him that the men in their family have the ability to time travel, the two indulge in creating the perfect bond. They use their shared secret to unite, bypassing the mischievous possibilities for mayhem for more meaningful endeavours in a bid to embrace their love for life and each other. Although his intentions (aside from the odd shallow meander) are thoroughly noble, Tim soon learns that by playing puppet master he can’t please everybody. Using his gift to woo American love interest Mary (Rachel McAdams) provides comic relief whilst cleverly avoiding creepiness - the couple’s chemistry is clear from the off, with Tim’s intervention acting as more of a playful gentle push than an outright manipulation. Touching, but by no means flawless, this new twist on a familiar format is more tender and comforting than it is funny and ground-breaking. Despite its occasional over indulgence, it ultimately poses poignant questions- when is it time to let go and move on? If time is so precious, then how should we really be spending it? Daisy Crisp.

Richard Chiles

As you'd expect from the director of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, the time travel in Richard Curtis' "last film" is more of a Macguffin and not central to the story. Which is essentially about the type of relationship between a father and son you could only dream of. As you'd expect, About Time is also a very middle class affair, but as love and family are Universal themes, you'll forgive Curtis if you forgave him his previous incarnations of modern British life, whose most pressing concerns are which bottle of wine and weekend breaks. The power of time travel placed in the squeezed fists of a well-raised, rounded middle class boy is nothing short of unremarkable. It is used sparingly, for good, and with some comic effect. But with a great script and a perfect cast, this is Richard Curtis back on the boil: triangle sandwhiches of melancholy washed down with sugary cups of sci-fi tea, alternating between the idylls of the British seaside and comfortable leafy bedsit London. About Time is like watching a recurrent dream of Richard Curtis' childhood. It'll make you want to ring your dad, if you're able to, and if this IS his last film, I'm happy that he's retiring on a high while leaving us with a fresh new talent in Gleeson.

MikeT

Oh dear, I thought Richard Curtis had promised to retire. He hasn't. What a shame.

Juan Carlos

Like the Time Out reviewer and unlike the two previous reviewers I wasn't very impressed with the film. To me it reminded me of the pop group obliged to do one more album under a record deal with a label they no longer like I just felt that the writer / director / creative genius didn't really have his heart in it. All of the characters from past films are there its just the jokes aren't. The heart of the film is that Tim isn't a really likable character. There is a creepiness in his seducing of MacAdam's Mary who really should have run a mile when she had the chance. The sister is a poor imitation of Charlotte Coleman's delightful friend in Four weddings and the slightly mad kooky sister in Notting Hill. Don't get me wrong it isn't awful its just not very good. From a new director and writer I might have been tempted to give it 3 stars but from Curtis and Working Title you expect much more. So for me it is 2 stars must try harder.

Ray

Really enjoyed this movie. Way beyond expectations. Perhaps 10 minutes too long, but otherwise one of the best nights spent at the cinema this year.

Edward Franklin

It is much easier to enjoy Richard Curtis films when you accept that they don't really take place in the real world. Aside from the outlandish financial security enjoyed by all of his characters, and the relentless stream of sentimental aphorisms, literary quotes and romantic declarations that constitutes their dialogue, it's laughable to suggest that a wedding party could ever respond to a sudden and violent downpour drenching both them and the cake quite as amicably as they do in 'About Time.' But sometimes I'm in the mood to drop in on Curtis' world, and the characters that inhabit it. Mostly, they're funny, and played by very good actors. Here, Domhnhall Gleeson - whose gawky looks make him a far better fit for the awkward romantic lead than Hugh Grant ever was - plays Tim, who finds out shortly after his 21st birthday that the men in his family have the ability to travel in time. I fully get that there's a tangible whiff of sexism here, and it can't fully be excused. And yet, given that the film's most powerful relationship - namely, that between Tim and his father (Bill Nighy) - is inextricably connected to the shared secret of their ability, one struggles to see a way in which Curtis could have avoided this particular problem. Other scenes - The Woman Tries On Lots Of Dresses And In The End Picks The First One - are just in bad, dated taste, and there really is no explanation for them. I can only say that the film can be enjoyed despite rather than because of such moments. Having discovered his ability, Tim uses it for various reasons - he helps people, he tries to make the world a little brighter, but yes, primarily, he tries to find love. Curtis deftly sidesteps the possibility of Tim's wooing of Mary (Rachel McAdams) being creepy and manipulative by demonstrating early on that no amount of time-tinkering can make someone love you, and by allowing the couple's first meeting to play out without any revisions from Tim; there's chemistry even when they're chatting in the pitch-black of a dine-in-the-dark restaurant It's true that there are numerous other points where he tries to improve their relationship - better first sex, better proposal - but it isn't insidious, and there's never a sense that Mary is being misled into their relationship. It's sweet. It's funny. I'm aware that this is all beginning to sound a bit like a defence rather than a review, and it's because Curtis films seem to be so automatically maligned, and enjoying them seen as weak, and maybe even a bit morally repugnant. So it feels important to establish that - as long as you don't blindly accept everything - it isn't. As Tim and Mary's relationship develops, its significance gives way to that of Tim's and his father's. The resulting meditation on father-son relationships, letting go and the preciousness of time is - helped along by one of the finest performances of Nighy's career - touching without being mawkish, and gives the film a contemplative weight that balances well with the carefree joy of the first half. Throughout, there's fine support from Tom Hollander as a passive-aggressive playwright, Richard Cordery as a lovably dithering uncle and Lydia Wilson as Tim's eccentric, volatile sister. And, predictably, Curtis demonstrates a continued proficiency for using music to steer us: a folky cover of The Waterboys' 'How Long Will I Love You?' for heady romantic bliss, Nick Cave's 'Into My Arms' for salty grief. It's easy to roll your eyes at the blatancy with which Curtis directs our feelings, but there's no denying he knows how to pick a tune. After all that, possibly all that really needs to be said about 'About Time' is that it's every bit as good as 'Notting Hill'. Take from that what you will, and you'll probably make the right decision about whether or not to go and see it.

Angela Lau

About Time Great casting, real characters with imperfections. What looks like a Rom Com is really about time, life and living it to the fullest. Deep, meaningful, funny and emotional. Highly recommended!

Angela Lau

About Time Great casting, real characters with imperfections. What looks like a Rom Com is really about time, life and living it to the fullest. Deep, meaningful, funny and emotional. Highly recommended!