Review: About Time / Cert: 12 / Director: Richard Curtis / Screenplay: Richard Curtis / Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy / Release Date: February 3rd
Richard Curtis is best known for directing mawkish romantic comedies in which a young, posh, white male bumbles around being handsome and charming, whilst the rest of the world goes on around him in a sweet yet sometimes sad way, until eventually the lucky rich kid finds the woman of his dreams, marries her and produces the next generation of terribly shy English people.
About Time is arguably Curtis’ first sci-fi movie, in that on this occasion the bumbling toff also happens to have the power to travel in time. Of course, because this is a mostly about romance and comedy, all the usual uses for time travel are quickly dismissed. Rather than, say, trying to save the world or fight social injustice, the lead character uses his incredible abilities to find the perfect girlfriend. As the movie is meant to be a sweet yet sentimental emotional journey you can see why they swiftly dismiss the concept of utilising time travel for material gain. Trouble is, this had the knock-on effect of underlining exactly how lucky and well-off the central lead is, which makes it hard to feel too much sympathy for the poor sap.
If you've seen Love Actually or Notting Hill then you’ll easily recognise the cast of characters. In addition to the protagonist who is constantly about to say the word “gosh” and then blush, we have a bombastic artistic friend, a chap who’s a bit of a prat, a sinister yet sexually enticing woman whom we’re supposed to dislike, the witty yet bland female lead and of course Bill Nighy. Despite Nighy pretty much playing his standard screen persona, he carries off the role of caring and beloved father figure incredibly well, bringing pathos and meaning to what would otherwise be rather bland scenes.
Notwithstanding all of this, it is an incredibly sweet and moving feature, more so than Curtis' previous efforts. Curtis uses the gimmick of time travel to hammer home the importance of the all too fleeting moments of joy that we experience throughout our lives. The fantastic elements are secondary to the needs of the story, and yet without them the movie wouldn’t work, so we’ll let the writer/director off, just this once. About Time is a sweet movie that takes as its theme the importance of love and family; if you do see it then we advise that you leave the Fourth Doctor scarf in its cupboard and instead grab a box of tissues – you’ll need them.
Extras: Audio commentary / Featurette / Blooper reel / Deleted scenes