This film is an absolute win. It advertises as a RomCom but it is so much more. Funny –yes. Dramatic – yes. Adorable – oh yes. There were as many laughs as there were tears and it managed to find the perfect balance between charming and awkward. The cast was amazingly well-chosen, and they succeeded in animating the equally well-written script. About Time draws as many emotions out of its audience as possible, and is a pleasure from start to finish. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
While Rachel McAdams may be filling her classic “cute but quirky” girlfriend role again, she fills it very well. She plays the protagonist (Tim)’s dream-girl and you watch their relationship unfold in a constant state of fear, knowing that he will probably do something terrible to muck things up. For example, there is a strong possibility that his time travels will make her forget that he even exists, forcing poor Tim to restart their relationship from scratch in the present. This sounds like the premise of a very repetitive and frustrating film, but I promise you it is just as tense as it is charming and it keeps the plot from being too predictable.
Bill Nighy is, as expected, simply wonderful. He radiates the best qualities in a Dad: funny, wise, experienced, and more than ready to drop everything to spend time with his family. He is the centre which holds this film together. His character is complemented by fantastic supporting characters: the hippy sister, the resentful roommate, the overly excited colleague, the inappropriate friend… all the bases are covered. But don’t think these characters are there to fill a “type” and leave it at that: most of them surprise you with either a moment of uncharacteristic weakness or strength, again keeping the plot fresh and unpredictable. They may be “secondary”, but many of them twist the plot in a way that impacts the rest of the story. For a film about time travel and the consequences of changing one little thing, these minute details are very very clever.
The story covers a great chunk of Tim (Domhnall Gleeson)’s life but magically it does not drag. Thinking back, there is a fantastic scene filmed completely in darkness, with only the dialogue to listen to for at least five minutes. It is a wonderful moment but it feels like I saw it a lifetime ago. The film covers so much territory in such a short period of time, it could be several movies rolled into one. There are at least two or three different parts where the movie could have ended, with a conflict, a climax, and a conclusion, but (happily) it kept on rolling. The characters never stop developing, from the way they act to the way they move, and it never gets boring to watch.
In my trailer review of About Time earlier in the spring I said it was bound to be a light, charming fall flick. It is charming indeed, but not light in an easily forgettable, just-a-way-to-pass-the-time sort of way. I laughed, I cried, I felt attached to the characters, and I marveled at the casting director’s ability to round up the most adorable children in England for the kids’ parts. About Time reminds you to love every moment of life, from the mundane to the extraordinary. It is not just another RomCom and I would happily spend another evening laugh-crying over it.