Familiarity and monotony have never been issues for Richard Curtis. His tried and tested, simplistic narratives have made him an incredibly successful writer, however his more recent ventures into directing have not been as fortuitous. Love Actually, while immensely popular, was vapid force-fed slush and the less said about The Boat That Rocked the better. Despite this, Curtis manages to find himself in the director’s role for a third (and possibly final) time with his latest project, About Time.
The story focuses on Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) who on his 21st birthday is informed by his dad (Bill Nighy) that he has the ability to travel back in time, enabling him to alter any event in his life. With this newfound gift, Tim decides to do what any 20-something aspires to: bag himself a girlfriend. For the purposes of this story she appears in the form of Mary (Rachel McAdams), a young publisher’s assistant with a bizarre obsession with Kate Moss.
Unsurprisingly, the film’s time travelling aspect quickly takes a backseat to the real issues at hand, namely love, romance and family values.
All of Curtis’ trademark elements are present – the socially awkward male lead, eccentric middle-class southerners, a free-thinking American love interest – all of which Curtis fans will relish.
Even the romantic downpour makes a contemptible return, serving as nothing more than a nod to previous works. That being said, Gleeson is by no means Hugh Grant – and that’s a good thing! Curtis has finally found a leading man worthy of audience sympathy, whose charm and presence don’t come across pompous and conceited but rather sweet and natural.
In contrast, About Time features some of the most lifeless female characters to grace a Curtis penned flick yet, serving as mere plot devices for Tim to essentially tumble over.
It’s odd that a film dealing with time travel feels so rushed and unbalanced. The film’s narrative rockets from one life-changing event to the next, with each becoming more forcibly poignant than the last, as more compelling plot points are overlooked (i.e. Tim’s sisters’ spouse issues and the relationship between Tim and his dad).
Despite its attempts to manipulate the audience into accepting it as another run-of-the-mill rom-com, About Time tends to exhibit some explicit male chauvinistic ideologies. Tim’s Groundhog Day-like use of his abilities leaves the distinct taste of sleaze and deceit throughout.
About Time is released nationwide on 4th September 2013.
Watch the trailer for About Time here: