At the Movies - About Time - review

Rachel McAdams ( Mary  - left) and Domhnall Gleeson (Tim)  in Richard Curtis' 'About Time'.
Rachel McAdams ( Mary - left) and Domhnall Gleeson (Tim) in Richard Curtis' 'About Time'.

It’s the sincerity and soothing caress of ‘About Time’ that makes it one of 2013’s most wonderful films.

At the age of 21, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson - ‘Black Mirror’) finds out from his father (Bill Nighy - ‘Love Actually’ and ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’) that he can travel back in time. Tim’s father quickly explains that the gift of time travel does not mean he can travel back thousands of years to “kill Hitler or sleep with Helen of Troy”. Instead, Tim can only travel back into his own past and make small changes - all he has to do is find a dark place, close his eyes, clinch his fists and think of the place in time he wishes to go.

‘About Time’ shows how Tim uses time travel to seek out love of his life, Mary (Rachel McAdams - ‘The Notebook’) but also to guarantee the happiness of his nearest and dearest.

However, there are certain points in his past that he can not go back to, otherwise he runs the risk of changing the future. It’s because of this rule that Tim must make a very difficult decision.

To quote Bruce Willis’ character, older Joe, in Rian Johnson’s ‘Looper’: “I don’t want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we’re going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.”

To concentrate on the inconsistencies and the contrivance over Richard Curtis’ use of time travel in ‘About Time’ is to miss the film’s most rewarding message entirely.

It’s utterly idealistic but at the very core of Curtis’ latest creation is a script and story that will intimately speak to every person who watches it.

Every Christmas, I cringe when I see Curtis’s ‘Love Actually’, his directorial debut back in 2003, in the television schedule. However,there are certain parts of that film that are similar in feeling to the vast majority of what happens in ‘About Time’.

Domhnall Gleeson’s Tim and Rachel McAdams’ Mary are reminiscent of Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell from 1994 movie, ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, which was also written by Curtis.

The pairing of Gleeson and McAdams also has connotations of Grant and Julia Roberts in ‘Notting Hill’ but despite all this they work tremendously well together on screen.

Gleeson is certainly a chip off the old block and after his performance here and in Charlie Brooker’s mini-television series ‘Black Mirror, dad Brendan will be proud as punch.

Nighy evokes tears and laughter as Tim’s dad and when both he and Gleeson are on screen together, the combination of their performances with Curtis’ script make these scenes genuinely moving and sincere.

Curtis is a scriptwriting genius but recently he has had to endure the wrath of the film critic. ‘The Boat that Rocked’ was utterly disappointing and less said about the vomit-inducing ‘War Horse’ the better, but ‘About Time’ is a true return to form. In fact, it could be argued that it is one of his best.

‘About Time’ also boasts an amazing soundtrack. Jon Boden’s version of The Waterboys ‘How Long Will I Love You?’ is wonderful whilst the use of Nick Cave’s ‘Into My Arms’ will have cinema goers a-plenty reaching for their hankies.

It’s sincerely beautiful and wonderfully charming and I defy anyone not to find ‘About Time’ ultimately rewarding.

‘About Time’ currently screening at Brunswick Moviebowl. For full cinema listings visit or phone 028 7137 1999.

VERDICT: 4/5 - It’s a film that should speak to the heart of everyone who watches it. It focuses on the important stuff and, to quote Bill Hick’s, it shows that life is “just a ride” and the sooner we realise that, the more enriching our existence can ultimately be.

It’s far from flawless and at times it’s awfully contrived, but to focus on the minor misgivings is to miss something much more substantial and rewarding. Curtis is back to his very best.