Richard Curtis’ About Time is a comedy drama which is both entertaining and affecting.
At the age of 21, Tim discovers from his father that all the men in his family have the ability to time travel. Tim can use this gift to travel back into his own life history. Tim decides to use the ability to help him find a girlfriend…
About Time is fairly typical of Richard Curtis’ output in terms of themes and style. The film works because the narrative and characters are strong enough to engage viewers.
The narrative utilises the time travel device, relying on it for comic effect for the most part. The characters are developed well enough to appear authentic and to persuade viewers to care about their outcomes. Similarly, the various relationships in the film have an air of authenticity to them; the family dynamics in particular are conveyed in a believable manner.
The themes that About Time revolves around are love, family and life choices. Curtis uses the science-fiction dynamic to convey the important aspects of life and the consequences of choices. The film is certainly a romantic comedy drama first and foremost; the sci-fi aspect is an add on to this.
Although About Time is successful for the most part, the montage at the very end is completely unnecessary. A motif of Richard Curtis, the very ending is cloying to the point of being unpalatable. Curtis makes his point effectively without the need for the device, which cheapens the overall film.
Performances in About Time are good overall. Bill Nighy is perfectly cast as the knowledgeable father. Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams have great chemistry, although it is difficult to believe that the characters have aged as much as they should have over the timespan the film covers.
A well-crafted narrative and three-dimensional characters make About Time an enjoyable watch. A tad too sentimental at times, the film is successful in its aims nevertheless.