PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
At the age of 21, Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) is told by his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in his family can travel in time. There are a few conditions: they can only travel backward in time, and only to places they have actually been. Upon learning this, Tim goes back to the night of a recent New Year’s Eve party where at midnight he had been too shy to kiss someone and rectifies the situation. After being discouraged from using it to acquire money and fame, he decides that he will use this ability to help his love life.
The following summer, Charlotte (Margot Robbie), the beautiful friend of Tim’s sister Kit Kat, comes to stay with the family. Tim has an instant attraction and at the end of her stay, decides to let her know. She tells him that he left it too late to do anything, and so Tim travels back to an earlier point. This time, Charlotte says that they should wait until her last day and talk again. Heartbroken, Tim realises that she is not attracted to him and that time travel will not be able to help change her mind.
Tim moves to London to pursue a career as a lawyer and stays with an acquaintance of his father, Harry, a misanthropic playwright. After some months, Tim and his friend Jay visit a Dans le Noir establishment, where Tim meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), and the two fall for each other. He gets her phone number and returns home to find out Harry’s play’s opening night was a disaster as the lead actor forgot his lines. Tim then goes back in time and attends the play and, after many complications, ensures it is a success.
Later, Tim attempts to call Mary only to find her number is not in his phone. He realises that by going to the play instead of the restaurant he never met Mary. Remembering something from the date, Tim eventually locates Mary and learns that she has a boyfriend (met after the night of the play). Tim decides to go back to the point where she met her boyfriend and ensures she goes out with him instead. They become a couple.
On a night out with his friend Rory, Tim meets Charlotte again. After time travelling several times to prevent and do over multiple awkward conversation mishaps, Tim walks her back to her apartment and she invites him inside. Tim turns her down and runs back to his apartment and proposes to Mary. She accepts, and they learn later that she is pregnant.
On the first birthday of Mary and Tim’s daughter, Posy, Tim’s sister Kit Kat crashes her car after a row with her obnoxious boyfriend, Jimmy. Tim, deciding it best she never met him, tells her about his ability to time-travel and takes her back to make sure they never meet, but upon returning to present time finds that altering the timeline means that Tim never had Posy. Instead, a boy was born in her place. After speaking to his father, Tim learns that once his child was born, travelling back to a time before the child’s birth will in fact stop that child from ever being born, as time will happen differently in every aspect of his life and a different child will be conceived each time. Tim reluctantly changes things back to the way they were and has to watch Kit Kat go through the pain of breaking up with Jimmy to ensure Posy is born. Kit Kat begins to put her life back together, Tim sets her up with his kind friend Jay, and the two become a couple. Tim and Mary have another child.
One day, Tim learns that his father has terminal cancer due to smoking and that time travel cannot change it as he started before Tim and Kit Kat were born. His father has known for quite some time but kept travelling back in time to effectively extend his life and spend more time with his family, but his time is running out, though he is ready to pass away. Eventually his father dies, but before he does his father tells Tim to re-live each day, once with all the stresses a normal person faces, and then again knowing what to expect from the day, and to embrace it and enjoy it. Tim follows his advice and keeps travelling back into the past to visit his dad whenever he misses him.
Eventually, Mary wishes to have another child. Tim also wants another but knows doing so means he won’t be able to visit his father in the past again after the baby is born, but he agrees and Mary becomes pregnant. After visiting his dad for the following nine months, the time eventually comes for Mary to give birth, Tim goes back and lets his father know that this is the last time he will visit him. They then both travel back in time together when Tim was a small boy and relive a fond memory of them playing on the beach. Tim comes to realise that it is better to live each day once as if he was an ordinary person and as if he has deliberately travelled back in time to be there. The film ends with Tim getting his three children ready for school.
Before the holidays, About Time was released, but it wasn’t a hit. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe it has made its budget back. With that said, though, this is the kind of film that is perfect for those that like to see their favorite novels appear on the big screen, or are fans of non-cheesy, borderline drama romantic comedies. However, is there anything for the general fan to enjoy? Is it any good?
What is this about?
A young man who comes from a family of time-travelers changes history for the better in this romantic comedy from director Richard Curtis. During one of his trips to the past, he falls for a woman played by Rachel McAdams.
What did I like?
Time travel. We’ve all had those moments where we wish we could go back just a few minutes and do or say something different. Well, that is the major selling point of this film for me. This guy, played by Domhall Gleeson, is part of a family that is able to travel through time. I can’t tell you how many times I wished I could go back and change something, especially if I could do it without consequences, as we are led to believe (more on that later).
Balance. There seems to be a nice balance among this film between the comedy, touching moments, heavy drama, and even a couple of “off-color” comments, for lack of a better term. Not very often we get a film that manages to strike such a perfect balance among those elements, so kudos to this film for doing such an impossible feat. My initial thoughts were that this was going to turn into some sappy, chick flick, tear jerker.
Rachel. I’ve had my eye on Rachel McAdams since Mean Girls. What an actress she has grown into, let me tell you. This isn’t the best material for her, but it allows her to flex her chops with some juicy and emotional scenes, including one where she is able to display the insecurities that every woman seems to have about what they look like in their clothes and what their significant other thinks about what they look like. I don’t know why, but I found this to be quite a poignant observation on her part that helped us to connect with her character a little better.
What didn’t I like?
Rules. As with every time travel movie, book, TV show, or whatever, there are rules that have to be followed, or everything falls apart. I mentioned earlier that there really aren’t any rules for these time travelers. Well, for a good portion of the film, that is what we are led to believe, but conveniently in the second half of the film, it is introduced that once they have a kid, they can never go past the birth. Something about that specific sperm, I believe. I don’t have an issue with that rule, but rather that is seemed to be conveniently introduced after the child was born. Could we have not gotten than in the first place?
Sister. Why is it that every film of this nature has some sort of sibling drama that seems to all but bring the film to a complete stop, and it usually happens around a wedding or other important event. The free spirit sister has an issue with her boyfriend beating her, which is no laughing matter, but my goodness did that whole segment bring things down, especially since she was such a light character. Having her go through such unfortunate events was not a good choice, in my opinion, but given the weight that this film wants to have, would it have really hurt to have someone who was a true free spirit?
Charm only goes so far. There is no question that this film is extremely charming, but that doesn’t excuse it for what some have said is “reassuringly bland.” I want to defend this film, but I just can’t bring my self to do so because it is pretty much the equivalent of an unsalted cracker. It provides sustenance, and you can add some stuff on top of it, such as time travel, but in the end all you have is a flatlining, somewhat boring film.
Surprisingly more entertaining that I expected, About Time delivered on all that it promised. However, the plotholes and genericness that it possesses will keep me from returning to this world and watching it again. Does that mean that I will steer others from seeing it? No, as a matter of fact, I think many who are more into this type of film will really get a kick out of it, so go ahead and give it a shot. You may enjoy it more than you think!
3 out of 5 stars