|Review by Caitlyn Thompson|
Famous for his dry-humored and charming love stories (Love Actually, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral), this year Richard Curtis brings us About Time.
Similar to his other films, the director presents a light and heartwarming story except this time he has included a supernatural element — time travel.
And while the rules of these travels are a bit cloudy, if not downright implausible, Curtis’ story remains adorable and uplifting. The time travel isn’t intrusive; it just adds a silly quirk, which fuels great comedic moments.
About Time is a funny, simple story about love, family and actively living life as happily as possible.
Self-deprecating and very dry, the humor in About Time is consistent and lovable.
There is something very appealing about Richard Curtis’ movies because they’re always sweet (maybe too much so if you’re not in the right mood) and full of positivity. He creates hilarious heart-warming stories that usually involve awkward characters that find love with awkward companions.
Domhnall Gleeson plays Tim Lake, a lanky, insecure English-boy who wants nothing more than to find true love. He has an almost sickeningly loving and supportive family, and on his 21st birthday, Tim’s father (Bill Nighy) reveals that the males of the Lake family can time travel. Nighy spoons us this silly detail with his familiar and awkward stature and goofy inflections. The dynamic between Nighy and Gleeson is genuine and Tim soon leaves home to work and find a girlfriend.
The film focuses mainly on Tim’s relationship with the frumpy-shy-but-beautiful, Mary (Rachel McAdams).
She’s shy and awkward, he’s shy and awkward, they are both attractive and kind, and a genuine relationship forms. Tim’s constant time traveling is an excellent source of unlimited do-overs when the wrong thing is said. It’s sometimes hilarious, other times it’s sappy, but it’s always charming and enchantingly so. It feels good to smile for pretty much a whole movie.
Where romantic comedies often follow a formula of love-at-first-sight, denial, conflict, heartbreak, realizations, and happily ever-to-be-continued, About Time features a happy relationship where there is no real conflict for the sake of drama.
Comedies and drama alike tend to focus on the problems of the relationships and families either for laughs or tears (Meet the Parents, American Beauty). Love stories alongside familial unrest usually intertwine to reveal an intimidating or depressing story, but About Time doesn’t follow that pattern.
Everyone get’s along, the family really is perfect: father, son, mother, daughter, odd uncle—they drink tea all day, makes jokes, smile, cuddle and hug, skip stones and have nothing but respect and kindness towards one another. And they do this in a gorgeous home by the sea – Curtis knows how to capture beauty in sunlight and setting.
It’s atypical to see such a functional family onscreen and I must say it’s a relief from all the dysfunction that accompanies familial/love stories.
It’s an interesting use of the suspension of disbelief – this measure is most used for purely supernatural means, but in About Time you’re suspending disbelief of how truly happy these characters are. All the faults and hardships that come with family and close relationships are nearly absent or settled with an unrealistic amount of ease and love.
But I think the heavy sentimentality makes the film excellent.
About Time is a pleasure to watch. It promotes the idea of finding happiness in the mundane activities of every day life, instead of focusing on the frustrating details and dwelling in tension. Relax, take nothing for granted, appreciate those around you, and love as much as possible because you might be happier focusing your energy on positivity.
It’s a sweet idea—unrealistic, we cynical-types might say, but hard to argue that smiling feels better than frowning.