‘Almost everything that is frustrating about the film is also counterbalanced by moments of thoughtfulness and insightfulness’
‘About Time may well be the two most pleasurable hours I’ve spent in the cinema all year’
‘Curtis has managed to achieve the impossible. Specifically: he has gone back to 1993 and remade Groundhog day with a ginger Hugh Grant’
The start is reminiscent of Wimbledon (2003), set in a warm, family country house in Cornwall and similar in many ways throughout (foolish, fumbling Brit meets smooth and charming American girl etc). But the big difference is that in the opening five minutes, you find out Tim (our protagonist) can time travel – a genetic gift that is passed down from father to son. I thought I wouldn’t last half an hour. I hate time travelling films.
But Domnhall Gleeson’s witty and awkward character kept me watching.
Tim travels back in time to change small things: the girl he kisses at a New Year’s party, the way he charms his sisters best friend. At the beginning, Tim’s time travelling is self centered and focused on finding himself a girlfriend. But after a few failed attempts at altering history, Tim realizes that ‘all the time travelling in the world can’t make someone fall in love with you’.
So he moves to London to become a lawyer. Where he meets Mary and falls in love, they get pregnant, and eventually get married. I mean eventually, because there is SO much time travelling that even though it’s not a particularly long film you feel like you’ve watched it twice. But there is a moment burned into my memory at the end of their wedding day (which is an absolute wash out with the wind blowing over their marquee) when Tim turns to Mary and says:
Tim: ‘Do you wish we’d picked another less wet day?’
Mary: ‘No. Not for the world.’
Tim: And so it begins.Lots and lots of types of days.
That was the start of the true meaning of the film for me. The beauty that is found in lots and lots of types of days, with mishaps and mistakes and laughter and the people you love. Tim’s Dad gives him some advice – to live each day, and then travel back and live it again almost exactly the same but this time appreciating all the tiny, hidden, wonderful things. And as Tim and Mary have children and life grows more chaotic, Tim stops travelling back in time because he learns to see the beauty in each moment as it comes.
How true that there are hidden graces everywhere. The blossom on the trees, the way people look at each other when they have been married 30 years and are still in love, the first sip of tea and bite of toast in the morning. Tiny hidden moments like these are all around us, undemanding, unnoticed. Together they make up the cacophony of life that overwhelms our senses. Sometimes just noticing the little things is enough to make us wonder at the life we have been given to live, and who on earth it is that gives us breath.