Friday, December 5, 2014

About Time

This review is spoiler-free.

I will refrain from puns -- it's about time I refrain from puns! After that one, after that one...

The day Tim turns twenty-one, his father takes him aside and tells him the family secret. Like most family secrets, it's not exactly the sort of thing you'd want to go blabbing to everyone, but that's where the similarities end. Tim even has a hard time believing it. "This is such a weird joke..."  he says hesitantly after his dad solemnly delivers the punch line of, "all the men in this family can time travel." Swearing revenge on his father for such a strange prank, he goes in search of a dark cupboard. Inside, he closes his eyes, clenches his fists, and thinks of the past -- yesterday's terrible New Years Eve party. When he opens his eyes again he's still in the cupboard, but he's wearing different clothes and music is blaring. Knowing what will happen, he takes the opportunity to fix a few things: not knocking over a table of drinks onto a couch full of the cool kids, and planting a kiss on the girl standing by him at midnight -- before returning to the present, full of questions.

On his father's advice, he opts not to use his abilities for the gain of wealth, but for the gain of happiness. In his words: "I'd really like to get a girlfriend." But even with time at your disposal, love can still be a very complicated thing to figure out.

In fact, the option of time travel can make it even more complicated.

My sister and I are currently in the middle of a long search for "the perfect classic rom-com." It's an elusive little critter, and I was tempted to end the search with this movie, but honestly, About Time is far too extraordinary to fall simply under the category of "rom-com." Although it is primarily made of romance and comedy, it is not at all formatted like a rom-com, and never comes close to the sugary fluff that defines the genre.

The most glaring difference to me is that this movie is all about the guy. Played by the absolutely adorable Irish ginger Domhnall Gleeson. You may recognize him as Ron Weasley's brother; you may recognize him in Star Wars 7 come May, provided he hasn't landed a part as an prosthetic-covered alien. I discovered him this summer when I found every single ginger actor in the UK in an attempt to figure out who the 12th Doctor should be/have been. Having seen him act now I think he'd be a fantasic Doctor... but I'm straying from the point. Gleeson is an exceptional lead here -- by any genre. The movie is about him (and time) and he is unquestionably the best of it. Tim can be awkward and dense, and makes mistakes, but we are always on his side no matter what. He is completely charming, kind, gracious, and caring, and downright hilarious in a wonderful, classic British high comedy sort of way. And that last bit goes for the whole movie too.

Romantic comedies with leading men always seem to be the best.

The supporting cast is brimming with talented faces. Like Bill Nighy as Tim's dad. Everything he does is, of course, masterful. Lindsay Duncan is quirky, or, rather, slightly off, and amusing as his mum. Lydia Wilson of "The Making of a Lady" is Kit Kat, the sister, and almost completely unrecognizable under the persona of a loopy and care-free hippie. The gorgeous Tom Hughes makes appearances as her troublesome boyfriend. And Tom Hollander is outrageous as the disturbed playwright uncle who hates everyone and everything. I laughed so hard at one of his scenes we had to rewind after we were finished as our laughing bled into the next scene. Every side character has the quirks to make them totally individual, and the natural portrayal to make them believably realistic.

Even the smallest side character is unique and smartly portrayed.

And then, and then, there is Rachel McAdams. She is technically the second main character, as the love interest, but she is one of two things (albeit the lesser of the two) that puts a slight damper of the magnificence of this film. It's probably all my fault; I'm just not a fan of McAdams. She just doesn't charm me. I like her considerably better when she plays... dislikeable people, like in Midnight in Paris, and here, her character Mary, the American living in London, insecure, sweet and sassy, only occasionally (and perhaps unintentionally) borders on... dislikable. But as far as her likable characters go, this is her best by my reckoning.

They were cute, but I did think she was a little out of his league -- opposite of the way we were supposed to think.

The bigger dampener is the R rating, and the content that caused it. The language exceeds a PG-13 by a count of about 4, and otherwise, there were two scenes left unwatched. Not the worst it could have been, but would the film suffer if it were tamed down a notch? I wouldn't think so, but that's not accounting for the butterfly effect. (It is a time travel movie after all.) If the maturity of the content had been brought down, perhaps the maturity of the message would have been dragged down with it. I can't see why it would, but I do know I've never seen a more appropriate rom-com with a theme equal to this one; in significance, or sincerity.

We and Tim go through life in this film together, and see the truth of real life reflected in its simple and honest artistry. He learns, and we are reminded -- that worrying instead of living through life is never profitable; that it's better to give out love than receive it, and that every day -- every moment -- is a gift worth appreciating. They are common themes, a dime a dozen in movies with no better ideas, but the true, sincere concept of Tim's tale. Through his eyes you see that these ideas may seem insignificant and frivolous until they are applied with powerful effect to one's own extraordinary, ordinary life.

No time travel necessary.

See you again a long time ago! (In a galaxy far, far away!)


  1. It's a nice movie to watch :)
    PS- New follower

    Neal Kind
    Daily Diaries

    1. Yeah, it's really nice and fun. :) Thanks for the follow, Neal!

  2. I remember watching this film at the cinema a year ago for my birthday! I loved it so much and I think it was the FIRST EVER film to make me cry! Domhnall Gleeson is one of my favourite actors, being Irish and all that... :D

    This was such a great post! You've got a real voice for this type of writing and I thoroughly enjoyed it! xx

    Golden Ducklings

    1. Wow, first movie to make you cry? That's impressive. It was a surprisingly moving story. I expected it to be a great film, but it still surprised me with its greatness! This was this first movie I've seen him in, but he's well on his way to being a favorite of mine too. :D

      Thank you so much Rachel! That's really nice of you to say. :) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  3. I must say your puns make me laugh every time. I'd miss them if you ever stopped. :) I'm not sure if you do tags but here's one for you if you do. :)


    1. Haha, well, thanks S! I just can't resist if I think of one that's punny.... :P

  4. It was a sweet movie. I'll give it that. Because even while it didn't need to be as long as it was, I could still see that its intentions were good. Nice review Sarah.

    1. It was kinda long wasn't it? Especially for a rom-com, but that's just more proof that it really wasn't one! Glad you liked it alright. Thanks Dan!