How many sleepovers have revolved around Richard Curtis? I’m guessing millions. I’ve been to at least five. Oh, you don’t have sleepovers dedicated to men in their fifties? I beg to differ. Richard Curtis is a 57 year old screenwriter; in fact he’s the screenwriter behind Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones’s Diary. Oh, you’ve had a sleepover that included watching one or more of these movies? You watch Love Actually every Christmas? I thought so. Me, too, buds. Me, too. Let’s face it, we love Richard Curtis, and his newest movie, About Time, allows us to continue the affair.
About Time stars Domhnall Gleeson as Tim, a young man who comes from a family of time-travelers. Wait… time travel with a Notting Hill feel? Yes. Stay with me. This is not time travel like changing the course of history, or as Tim’s dad says, “You can’t kill Hitler or shag Helen of Troy.” It’s also not hard to control, like say, The Time Traveler’s Wife. Speaking of, Rachel McAdams plays Mary, Tim’s love interest. There must be something about McAdams’s face that says, “Time travelers like me.” It’s important to say that Mary is American, so there’s no phony British accent (thank goodness). Tim’s goal is to make Mary his, and while he works on that, he learns the ropes of his time travelling powers.
Sometimes he’s not very good at time travel, and that’s when it’s most hysterical. In fact, much of the movie is hysterical. There’s a scene where Tim’s landlord, Harry (aka, Mr. Collins) opens a play. It’s an absolute disaster because his lead actor forgets his lines. Tim goes back in time and tells the actor (Mr. Dursley, by the way) to study his script. Tim and Harry watch the play, but Tim talked to the wrong actor, leaving the audience in a silent limbo yet again. Tim goes back again and makes cue cards, effectively launching his friend’s career into theater success. It’s not the only laugh in the film, and I feel confident that in sharing this small one, you will still highly enjoy the movie. This was the first time I’ve cried and laughed out loud during the same film in a really, really long time. In other words, this is an exceptional story.
What makes it so good? Maybe it’s the number of actors who were in Harry Potter. There are three here. It’s like a miniature reunion with Bill Weasley (Tim) and Mr. Dursley and the Minister of Magic (Tim’s dad).
Maybe it’s the mere presence of Domhnall Gleeson (Tim). He’s the cutest boy in the world. His red hair and green eyes and general nervousness, which he overcomes with honesty, qualify the superlative. Seriously, Tim is the kind of guy who figures out what he wants and then goes after it, even when it scares him to death. If that’s not cute and wonderful and perfect, I don’t know what is.
Maybe the movie was so good because of its portrayal of a family. There’s the wacky sister (Lydia Wilson), the sturdy mum (Lindsay Duncan), the intellectual dad (Bill Nighy) and the wacky uncle (Richard Cordery); they all act together wonderfully. It’s all beach tea times and laughing and teasing and everything good about having a loving family.
Or maybe it’s because where so many other time travel films fail, this one succeeds; it’s not actually about time travel. Sure, the gift is an element to the story, but it seems like a natural part of the character, not the crux of the film.
Maybe it’s because the story is actually about life and love and finding happiness.
Maybe it’s because it’s about how precious our time on earth really is, how spectacular each breath is.
Maybe it’s because it made me so emotional and sentimental about how blessed we are to have life. Here’s the thing though, aren’t we blessed? Isn’t life sacred? Isn’t it beautiful? Shouldn’t we savor each moment? I think About Time succeeds so spectacularly because it recognizes this and takes it on headfirst. It’s about lifting up the small moments. It’s about fighting for what you want. It’s about enjoying the present. It’s about time and how we have the power to spend it exactly how we choose to.
Hilary Miller is currently an MFA student in Screenwriting at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. When not not watching, writing, or talking about movies and television shows, she can usually be found making crock-pot creations, laughing, talking too loud, running, devouring a good book, eating, racking up cellular bills chatting with her bomb family, sticking her toes in the sand, or wishing she were Hermione Granger, sometimes all at once. And while part of her heart is still in Indiana, the rest of it belongs to her puppy, Estelle Getty.