On his 21st birthday Tim’s (Domhnall Gleeson) father reveals a secret; that all men in the family can travel backwards through time. Being 21, Tim quickly takes on the search for love, and realises that even though he can change his past, the path to true love doesn’t always run smooth.
Domhnall Gleeson is seriously making some great choices in his career, and About Time is no exception. Written and directed by the king of romantic comedies – now we have lost John Hughes anyway – Richard Curtis, About Time sees Gleeson take on a charming and warm role that shows off his tender, and his funny sides.
Tim travels backwards through his life, even as he keeps moving forward, in the hope of helping those around him and finding the love of his life. When she appears in his life, he realises that Mary (Rachel McAdams) is the woman he has been searching for. McAdams has shown time and again that she excels in this kind of sweet and slightly awkward role, so she is at her best here. Bill Nighy, as Tim’s father, is just as endearingly befuddled as his son and he is also the catalyst that sets many of the events in motion.
About Time wilfully ignores many of the time travel ‘rules’ that we have learned through watching the great movies from our childhoods, and in this way, feels a little similar to The Time Traveller’s Wife; Tim can only travel back through his own timeline, there is no fear of ‘the butterfly effect’ and meeting himself not only doesn’t happen, but there is the feeling that if he did, it would not be the end of the world.
Richard Curtis’s story is literally riddled with plot holes, so much so that if one thinks about the logic of time travel too much, then the film will surely unravel under the weight of your questioning, but as it stands, it is just as warm, sweet and heartbreaking as you would expect from a Richard Curtis film. The film is littered with the characters we have seen in Curtis’s previous work; the charmingly awkward man, the quirky supporting characters, the sweet love interest, but this simply serves to make the film feel familiar, like snuggling up with a beloved blanket.
About Time is a warm and comfortable film that not only showcases Gleeson at his very best, but feels safe and familiar, while being unpredictable enough to keep the audience interested. As mentioned, the film is filled with plot holes – hidden under the idea that cause and effect don’t matter – but About Time is still a lovely film that feels like a hug from your best friend. Go and see it, enjoy it, just don’t think about it too deeply.