Reviewed by Ian Forbes
Upon a bit of introspection and doing some mental math in regards to how many times I watch it each holiday season, I’d have to say Love, Actually might be my favorite Christmas movie. So … Umm … There’s that. Take it for what you will. I even make sure each year to watch both the feature film and then watch it again with the commentary track (Hugh Grant jokes about Colin Firth the entire time, it’s hilarious).
Why does any of that blathering matter? Well, because Love, Actually comes from the same writer/director as the newly released About Time … about which this actually is a review for. Hmm, I’m not getting grammar points for that last sentence. Moving on, Richard Curtis is the man behind both films and my instinct to seek this movie out, despite its obvious chick flick DNA, was rewarded with it becoming one of my favorite movies of 2013.
Without giving away too much, or at least no more than the trailers have already done so, the film is a bit of science fiction mixed in with an a coming-of-age romantic tale. Once they turn 21, the gentlemen in the Lake family all have the peculiar ability to travel back in time; to correct any grave errors, relive cherished memories, attempt to mold their lives as they want them to be. This sets the framework for the main character of Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), who just really wants a girlfriend. He eventually sets his sights on Mary (Rachel McAdams) and the rest unfolds through trial and error.
What elevates the film from a simple romantic sci-fi comedy into something more is Curtis’ ability to develop each of the people in Tim’s life. Most importantly, there’s his family. His strong connection with Dad (Bill Nighy), Mom (Lindsay Duncan) and his sister (Lydia Wilson) prove to be the driving force of his personality. Then there are Tim’s friends from work and even a playwright in London that joins the mix in particularly hilarious fashion. And of course, there’s the love interest in Mary. All of them highlight different facets of Tim and Gleeson carries the performance off beautifully.
This is particularly important because no matter how good the ensemble is (and they are excellent), the movie simply would be crushed under its sentimentality without the remarkably relatable, sincere, and vulnerable Gleeson tying it all together. To no great surprise, the scenes between Tim and his Dad are the big standouts and the group as a whole exhibits some of the best chemistry on film this year.
In short, About Time is a movie that may not be on people’s radar because they think it’s just another sappy romance, or maybe the combination of time travel and McAdams evokes not so fond memories of The Time Traveler’s Wife. Rest assured, this is not either of those things. Yes, there’s some gooeyness to the proceedings but Curtis cuts it with clever dialogue, dry British wit, and excellent performances that keep the saccharine levels at bay. This is a feel-good movie that doesn’t shy away from some of the tougher moments of life, which serves as a reminder that one cannot truly experience joy without knowing sadness as you need the comparison to put either in context.
This is easily the best date movie of 2013 and I say that without sarcasm or any negative connotation. The film is relatable to just about anyone and the quality of its production, from top to bottom, will make it worth the ticket price. When it comes to movies I’ll be recommending people see this year, About Time heads right near the top of the list as it takes no hemming and hawing regarding the type of demographic that should enjoy it. It should please anyone except the most anti-romantic … and you know who you are.
About Time is rated R for language and some sexual content.
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