My girlfriend and I had a wonderful day out for our first year anniversary, which was to be concluded with a trip to the cinema after a romantic dinner (also a very large dinner!). We headed for the Everyman cinema, a luxurious and substantially expensive picture house. It was, frankly, the most enjoyable cinema experience I’ve ever had. This, of course, is due to a number of things: the film, the cinema seats (sofas!), the screen, the sound, the date, the wine, the milk and white chocolate raisins, the vintage posters (which I later discovered to be just wall paper) and even the toilets (where each cubicle had its own hand dryer, soap, towels, art and mirror!).
So, everything was flawlessly in place, the day had gone really well, but now my anxiety was hanging entirely on Richard Curtis’ new film About Time. It would either make me wince and cringe throughout and I just wouldn’t be able to grasp the films nature, or I would love it. I was sure my girlfriend would love it either way; after all it is the man behind such triumphs as Notting Hill and Love Actually.
So, for the review… Richard Curtis is close to his best with About Time, although he’s said it will be his last film as director. Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), our protagonist, is an anxious minded 21 year old who yearns unsuccessfully for girls. On Tim’s 21st birthday his Father (Bill Nighy) reveals their bizarre family ability to travel back in time, which Tim soon learns to use countless times in order to overcome his generally embarrassing mistakes. However, in the end, it is clear that mistakes don’t matter anymore to Tim, as he falls in love with the charming Mary (Rachel McAdams) who he can feel totally comfortable and natural with. It is raised again, the question of what true love really feels like and Curtis has depicted this brilliantly through Tim.
On the Film 4 Programme Richard Curtis says he “Spends a lot of time worrying about things that don’t happen.” This shows through Tim’s character. The theme here is, therefore, to try to live our lives without the worry of achievement and what might happen (easier said than done!) – the time travel is symbolic of this; it acts as a safeguard to anxiety. Curtis wants us to act naturally and cherish everyday as though it’s our last.
Of course, the film is full of Richard Curtis elements – his style is impeccable. His vision on the world stays parallel, as a snug instrument netted with love. There is a tremendous depth to the characters who are all infused with Hugh Grant channeled sparkle and witty dialogue. We are also greeted, once again, with the white, middle-class, though a large part of the film is actually set outside of London, in Cornwall. This setting is a refreshing element to the script, but one can get tired with the way the loafing middle-class are represented. Curtis says, “You have to write about things you know about” to ultimately write well. Richard Curtis was brought up a middle-class citizen, but I’m sure by now he has enough life experience to probe outside this tapered package.
“The simple things emerge as the most important,” says Bill Nighy in an interview. This seems another reference to not overthinking foundations of life and maintaining clearly led relationships; relationships are the most important aspect of life. The principle relationships in the film (Tim and Mary, Tim and his Father) are frankly heart wrenching, but at the same time deeply warming and vital to all the characters in the film. Mark Kermode describes the film as “a big warm hug.”
So, in conclusion, step lightly into this film, accept Richard Curtis’s aptitude and enjoy it. It is a film to change your life. It’s one step further to understanding love. It’s one step further to forgiveness and approving your actions. Go and see it. Also, if you get the chance, check out the Everyman cinemas too!
My problematic rating system:
Entertainment – 5
Craft – 3
Intellect – 3
Originality – 4
Score – 15 out of 20
4 stars for About Time