Though I am still struggling mightily with jet lag, I managed to see About Time yesterday. Yes it is true, that Domhnall Gleeson‘s Tim Lake does use this time travel tool for his own ends and the results are clearly the objectification of the women he encounters. You can see this ever so clearly in the trailers. But I must add the following qualifier – it is only to begin with.
Once Dad (Bill Nighy) passes on the family secret upon Tim’s 21st birthday, to the disbelieving Tim, that the men in the family do have this power (which is limited to time travel only within their own lifetimes and strictly not for avarice or greed), you might wonder about the how. Quite simple, actually. Find a dark closet, clench your fist, think of where you want to be – and that gets it done. Tim says he hopes he can use it to find himself a girl friend.
It works favorably (in a do-over sense rather than the carnal sense) with the gorgeous Charlotte (Margot Robbie who appeared in the failed Pan Am TV series and has a role in the forthcoming The Wolf of Wall Street), but Tim learns that the ‘power’ can not create love where it doesn’t exist. So Charlotte moves on and out of Tim’s life (however not quite forever).
Then Tim meets Mary, played winsomely by the always likeable Rachel McAdams. And yes – with Mary, Tim exploits her, but only up to a point.
The thing of it is – that Tim doesn’t use the time travel thing indiscriminately and just for his own sexual needs. There’s Harry the playwright whom he helps, and Rory, an associate at the law-firm where Tim works, and then Kit-Kat, his own sister, who has the knack of acquiring the worst guys as b/f’s.
Basically what I am saying is that Tim begins on the path of the gratification of his own desires. But he does makes a course correction. And to be fair, it wasn’t always a one-sided thing. Tim desired Mary, and Mary also desired Tim.
By the end, Tim is a good son, husband, father, and family man. There is no lengthy list of conquests. As Tim, in a moment of contemplation says to us in a voice over, at the end, that his life (despite the gift of the time travel) and having to hurdle some obstacles (see image below), has been a life that is extraordinarily ordinary.
Richard Curtis is not a new kid on the block, he does have a wonderful track record with a rather delightful and lengthy list of credits. He wrote the screenplays for War Horse (2011), Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), Notting Hill (1999), and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). And that’s just a few of his writing credits. He also wrote and directed Love Actually (2003), This time he directed and wrote the screenplay, so this film did bring some high expectations.
In About Time, he might have been tempted with the thought of having Tim stay on that dark road of gratification at any cost, and yes, the film sort of blithely sets aside how the women feel – but only to a point. That course correction changes everything.
I liked the cast which included some wonderful support players like Richard Cordery as the daft but ever sweet Uncle Desmond, Tom Hollander as Harry the playwright, Vanessa Kirby as Joanna – Mary’s gal pal, Lydia Wilson as Tim’s sister Kit-Kat, and Lindsay Duncan as Tim’s Mum.
The film is located in first the wonderful coastal Cornwall, and then in London. You might even recognize Abbey Road in St. John’s Wood, and Notting Hill. And yes the cinematography is superb. As is the choice of the music.
If there was one thing that was a clear mistake, Tim and his friend Rory meet Mary and Joanna in a restaurant where everyone sits in near pitch black darkness. The whole gambit, is to see how well you get on with your unknown dining partners, before actually seeing them. Truly, the ultimate blind date. This went on far too long, and was wrong-headed to start with. I mean hearing about a bit of pudding, or was it a strawberry mousse, delivered to another’s eye, might elicit a few yacks if we could see it – but all we got was the audio.
I believe that the film is well worth a viewing. Richard Curtis knows his stuff, and Domnhall Gleeson as Tim is simply great. You won’t like him to begin with, but he will not only grow on you, but he will win you over. And if you think he looks familiar – he played Bill Weasley in two of the Harry Potter’s – Deathly Hollows I and II. While Domhnall is thirty you will absolutely believe him as a 21-year-old.
I’m giving the film a three-point seven five on the one to five scale. It may not be a ‘must-see’ but I will recommend it as worthy of your investment of time and money.
Have a look at the trailer: