Despite the misleading marketing, “About Time” is less a film about romantic love and time travel, and more a film about the bond between father and son and learning to appreciate life as it is.
The film revolves around Tim, an awkward, unlucky-in-love guy played by Domhnall Gleeson, who seems to be fumbling through life without much happiness or direction. When Tim turns 21, his father tells him a family secret: the men can all travel through time.
With this huge revelation so early, it seems the story would be built around Tim’s power, and it is used quite a bit in the beginning, but overall time travel doesn’t play much of a part in this movie. In fact, it’s easy to forget that time travel is a factor at all.
In any work about time travel, it is vitally important to establish rules and stick to those rules exactly. “About Time” creates the rules, but as the film progresses, it doesn’t stick to them. There are logistics issues galore.
But because the film, at its core, isn’t really about time travel, the issues are easy to look past.
Tim tells his father that he wants to use his time travel to get a girlfriend, and much of the film is devoted to Tim’s blossoming relationship with Mary, who’s played by Rachel McAdams.
Gleeson and McAdams have a fun, light chemistry that makes Tim and Mary easy to root for. They’re not overly spontaneous or incredibly passionate. Instead, they’re two characters with flaws and insecurities that they work through together.
Still, the film excels most when it focuses on the relationship between Tim and his father. While McAdams is pleasant to watch, Mary doesn’t have much of a personality. She serves as Tim’s love interest and not much else. Her lack of character is one of the film’s greatest weaknesses.
Bill Nighy does what he usually does and steals every scene he’s in as Tim’s father. He gives a hilarious and heartfelt performance. Tim has a great, relatable relationship with his father and their scenes are stronger than anything else in the movie.
“About Time’s” ending is unabashedly sentimental. Director Richard Curtis goes right for the heart, and he hits his mark. Viewers will walk out wiping away tears.
Despite time travel issues and character weaknesses, “About Time” is successful as a sweet, inspiring film about family and love.
— Schyler Martin
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