About Time

wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV/online (?)

quick review:

If you’ve loved some of Richard Curtis’s previous work as writer or director – Notting Hill, Love Actually and the likes – then chances are you’ll like About Time as well despite its rather huge logical flaws. A breezy, charming film and funny in a very British manner.

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Director: Richard Curtis
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This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.

Haven’t you, at least once in your life, wished that you could travel back in time to undo something that you’d done, or to do something differently? And what if you suddenly had that power? How much of your life would you change, and how much of that power would you use to chart the course of your future? Either way, even with this power, would one still really have any control over destiny?

Any time travel film makes you ponder over these questions, but Richard Curtis’s About Time is actually built around them. 21-year-old Tim discovers that he has the ability travel through time. Once Tim figures out how it works, he goes about trying to ensure that life for him pans out just the way he wants it.

Curtis, quite the master of mush, creates a warm little world for gawky Tim; a world that makes you smile more than once, because of some adorable characters and some genuinely witty moments involving Tim and the people in his life; his father (an adequately charming Bill Nighy); Mary, the woman he loves (a slightly miscast but still lovable Rachel McAdams); his sister Kit Kat; and some more. Tim – played with the perfect mix of earnest awkwardness and charm by Domhnall Gleeson – is also often faced with situations that don’t necessarily involve him directly, but which make him want to use his power nonetheless.

Despite the unfair advantage that Tim has in his life, you’re almost always rooting for him. You can almost tell when and why he’ll use his power, and how it will go. What makes you want his life to turn out just the way he wants it to is the fact that you can see that Tim is fundamentally a good guy. He wouldn’t use his power to harm anyone, and the manner in which his character is written and acted convinces you of that almost instantly.

The film’s weakest aspect is the time travel itself. Even though it is used with the intent of conveying a certain message each time and is to be taken at face value, the fact remains that it takes too many logical liberties far too often. So, instead of focusing on the ‘where’, ‘why’ and ‘when’ of it – which is what the film is actually supposed to be about – you’re left wondering about the ‘how’ - how did that happen, exactly, when it was clearly against the ‘rules’?

Simply put, you’re left thinking about the logical inconsistencies when instead you should be buying in to the film’s core message. Also, the film really slows down towards the end, when the message has been adequately hammered on your head a few times, and it still waits to spell the whole thing out for you.

Despite the voluminous plot holes, the film’s warm, self-deprecating, quite British humour, the performances, and the honest message that the film tries to convey makes About Time a film that is never offensive and invariably happy. People in a certain frame of mind often look for a particular kind of film to catch on DVD or TV to elevate their mood. About Time is precisely that kind of film. Either directly or indirectly, it will make you see that there’s no greater waste of time than a bad mood.

This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: Some abusive language
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A few sexually intimate scenes
  • Concept: A young man discovers he can travel in time…
  • General Look and Feel: Warm, fuzzy feel

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