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British film review: About Time
Richard Curtis is back. The Four Weddings writer turned director is, for better or for worse, famed around the world for his feel good and quintessentially British romantic comedies. This time around his newest screen venture 'About Time' pretty much sticks to his previous successful formula, but with an ever so slight science fiction twist.
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) has just been given some surprising news. It has been revealed to him by his father (Bill Nighy) that all the men in his family can travel in time. All he has to do is stand in a small dark space, ball up his fists and think of a time he wishes to revisit. Although rightly sceptical, Tim soon finds himself standing in his wardrobe in yesterday's clothes, as the previously seen new year's celebrations are going on down the stairs. Now convinced about his genetically inherited abilities, Tim must decide whether to use his powers for good or for evil...But, this being a Richard Curtis film of course, our young lead doesn't scheme up grand ideas of fame and wealth, but only wishes to simply find himself a nice girlfriend.
Yes, until now Tim has not had much luck with the ladies, with his awkward and self deprecating manners making him not too unlike a young, ginger Hugh Grant. Tim thinks that having the chance to go back in time and 'do over' every clumsy move, every foot-in-mouth conversation means that he can achieve what has so far been elusive to him; love.
Queue the young pretty American female, Mary, played by Rachel McAdams, who really should no better as to get involved with a time traveller. She does of course fall for his English gent charms, however, time travel is a tricky businesses and after a bit of jiggery pokery, the universe becomes un-aligned and it's as if they have never met. Tim now needs to find Mary once more and win her heart all over again.
'About Time' is pretty much what you'd expect from a Richard Curtis film, it very much sticks to the formula, but considering the low quality of films of this ilk, no one does the formula better. It is genuinely witty, with some really likable performances from Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson, who may now just go on to become an unexpected heart-throb. And there is also Bill Nighy being...well, the usual awesome Bill Nighy. And it's the father-son relationship that takes over in the second half, giving a different dynamic to the genre. It's also a very sweet film that means well, with an overall message to live in the moment and appreciate the things you could easily miss the first time around.
As with films of this nature, the flaws that come with it are the not so well written female characters and the light handed approach to the more serious issues portrayed. But 'About Time' is probably, technically at least, the best Curtis film in years, over-taking the much loved but structurally weak 'Love Actually' and the entertaining but over-long 'The Boat That Rocked'.
'About Time' delivers light hearted fun and plenty of laughs along with sentiment and a little schmaltz. It's basically all you could ask for from a Curtis film, and those reading this will probably pretty much know in advance whether they think that's a good thing or not. But fans of time travel films should be aware that 'About Time'....does not stick to the rules! If a film's space-time continuum plot holes are the type of thing to keep you awake at night, then you are probably not taking 'About Time' in the spirit that it was intended. The sci-fi element should really be taken with a pinch of salt as there are many other enjoyable qualities to entertain you with.
'About Time' is released in cinemas September 6 2013
View stills from 'About Time'
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