Writer-director Richard Curtis once again tackles the subject of love in his new movie, “About Time.”
Unlike “Love Actually,” which starred a who’s-who of British actors and explored the subject of love via the relationships of different interconnected people, “About Time” focuses on just one family and perhaps the only faces that will be familiar to Western audiences are Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy.
What the two movies do have in common, however, is Curtis’ deep appreciation for love in all forms. “About Time” is not just about the kind of love that is typically on display in a romantic comedy.
On his 21st birthday, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) learns from his father (Nighy) that the men in their family can travel in time, at least the time within their own lives. Upon learning of his new ability, Tim chooses to use it in his search for love and then he meets Mary (McAdams).
In less skilled hands this premise would have been the whole movie, with one comedic set piece after another showing Tim screwing up something with Mary and using his power to make it right.
Thankfully, Curtis plays with the time travel trope just enough to keep the plot moving. Not surprisingly, Tim’s power seems to cause more problems than it fixes and he must make a few tough choices. The lessons he learns give “About Time” an emotional heft that elevates the movie.
What is most refreshing is how romantic love isn’t the only focus of the movie. Curtis also explores how the love we have for our parents, siblings, children and friends can also enrich our lives.
Still, the story wouldn’t be compelling if we didn’t believe in the love that develops between Tim and Mary and this is where McAdams proves why she is so good in these kinds of movies. Gleeson is also the right blend of sweet, shy and awkward that makes rooting for him fun. Nighy is also terrific as the world’s coolest dad. The role is well-suited for him.
Curtis loves to sprinkle his films with unusual characters and “About Time” is no exception. Each person adds to the movie, no matter how small their role.
“About Time” is sure to become another holiday favorite for the entire family.Photos courtesy of Universal.