Wednesday, March 05, 2014

About Time

Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) learns an important secret early on in About Time, the latest piece of British whimsy from writer/director Richard Curtis. On his 21st birthday Tim is told by his father (a relaxed Bill Nighy) that the men in his family have the ability to time travel. All that's required is a dark corner and closed eyes and Tim can travel back to any point in his life. The movie is the story of Tim figuring out his life in the adorable fashion of Curtis' characters from Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually; there are strange friends, a grumpy landlord (Tom Hollander) and eventually a wife (Rachel McAdams) and children. Curtis isn't interested in exploring the moral choices that might arise from Tim's time travel but rather in his search for domestic tranquility. As Tim's future opens up certain parts of his past are closed off, and that creates what drama there is in About Time. There are no real consequences to Tim's behavior, and when his efforts to help his troubled sister (Lydia Wilson) backfire it's all too easy to reverse his actions in a montage. Rachel McAdams is stranded, the real love story is between Tim and his father. Nighy's character is so comfortable (the family's wealth is never explained) that he's content to live his life over again after learning how it ends. Curtis is trying to say something about change and acceptance, but the lack of conflict turns the movie tedious. I wasn't a fan of Curtis' Pirate Radio either, and each succeeding film indicates a greater stab at seriousness and a turn away from narrative energy. About Time has only the pleasant nature of its cast to recommend it, but it should have spent more time looking forward.

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