Richard Curtis’s next foray into romantic comedies (i use the term romantic loosely) comes in the form of ‘ABOUT TIME’, about Tim (played like as if he’s the new Hugh Grant by Domhnall Gleeson) who discovers from his father (played by Bill Nighy who doesn’t just do that usual Bill Nighy ‘thing’ here) he can travel through his own time after the age of 21. With this ability he uses it to find true love (in form of Rachel McAdams, cornering the market for romantic comedy time-travel films and doing here likeable ‘take home to your parents’ charm), but discovers that even with this ability not everything can be perfect.
The thing with this Curtis film, critics will hate it. It has all the hallmarks of a Curtis film, from the middle class Englishman falling for the American, everyone having good jobs and living in big houses, the hero being bumbling and has a comedy sidekick, rain, passage of time shot (this being the London Underground) and the whole ‘wooing- the girl- routine’ which can only come across as anything more then freaky (case in point Andrew Lincoln just filming Keira Knightley on her wedding day – here he uses his time travel to follow McAdams to a Kate Moss exhibition). Now you might be thinking well this is just the same as with ‘Love Actually’, ‘Four Weddings and A Funeral’ etc. But the real difference here is the fact that while you might not like these hallmarks there actually something far more hidden underneath this film other than the usual Curtis hallmarks. Straight away it’s noted how this film isn’t a story about the boy trying to get the girl (something which this film has been marketed as – but isn’t), but instead a film about a boy relationship with his father (hence why I called this a ‘romantic’ comedy). It’s set over a large amount of time, which doesn’t feel forced and there is a good feel that if this was a book, it would be one you would read while on a beach. But I think the far more impressive thing here is that there’s a real sense of sincerity about it all, the whole idea of how the narrative just builds like as if it’s just one big hug, which to me is a bloody hard thing to do.
Will it win critics of Curtis? No I don’t think so it, it is very middle class, and the whole time travelling thing (which there elements of ‘Groundhog Day’ in there) does go back on its own rules set out. And if you look at the plot more there is a lot of holes. The main issue I had is just the character of Tim. How he just turns from being a nobody to a ladies’ man in a matter of moments can be a little jarring, particularly when it made a point about him being terrible with his confidence of going over to women.
Will it win awards? No, Will it win over Richard Curtis critics? Again no. But if its effects work on you then you will pleasantly enjoy this experience, as you probably want to ring your Dad afterwards. It’s also another confident entry into the CV of Domhnall Gleeson who is indeed being a very exciting acting talent indeed. Oh and watch out of an appearance from the late great Richard Griffith’s.