"We're all traveling through time together, every day of our lives. All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride."
If there is someone who can get away with being too schmaltzy, generic, charming and sentimental it's Richard Curtis. It comes as no surprise here considering he's directed Love Actually, and wrote such rom-coms as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones's Diary, and Notting Hill among others. He has a tendency of melting even the toughest hearts and no matter how prepared you think you are for his next film somehow he gets you again. Perhaps About Time is his most sentimental film and that could turn some people off, but I must say this isn't your typical romantic comedy. Half way through the film it turns into a completely different movie becoming one about family dynamics and enjoying the ordinary moments in life. Perhaps the reason why Curtis gets away with being so charming is that he creates a perfect balance in his stories and introduces comedic relief at the right moments. About Time is a flawed film, but you can probably say this about all his films. The thing a lot of people might have a problem with specifically in this one is the time traveling element which many may find a bit absurd, but it worked for me (at least it was much better than the other time traveling movie that Rachel McAdams starred in) and I think Curtis uses this element as a sort of parable to remind us of the importance of savoring each day. It may feel like a sermon at times, but it's one I don't mind being reminded of. Carpe Diem!
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson who you may recognize as Bill Weasley in the last two Harry Potter films) is a shy kid living with his parents (Bill Nighy and Lindsay Duncan) and lovable sister Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson). The morning of his 21st birthday his father shares with him a family secret: the men in their family can travel in time, but they can only do so to moments they personally have experienced. Tim decides to use this special ability to find love, because he really needs all the help he can get for it. Tim leaves his parents beautiful beachside estate in Cornwall for London in order to become a lawyer. He moves in with one of his father's friends, Harry (Tom Hollander), who's a struggling writer with a bad temper. In London Tim meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and the two fall for each other, but due to a time traveling incident that night is erased from Mary's memory and Tim has to find another way to win her back.
I feared this film would become another sort of 50 First Dates, but surprisingly it took an unexpected turn halfway through the film and becomes something else. It is not just a romantic comedy, it becomes a movie about family, love, and life where Tim learns a couple of valuable lessons along the way. McAdams and Gleeson shared great chemistry on screen, but the true standouts in this film were the supporting characters, especially Tim's father played by the wonderful Bill Nighy. He is great here once again, while Wilson, Duncan, and Hollander all are extremely funny and used for comedic relief. It's a relief from the schmaltzy sentimentality of the film. It's as if Curtis is admitting he's manipulated us way too much with all the emotional sentimentality and now it's time for a good laugh. If you don't find this film funny then you will probably find it way over the top with the sentimentality. It's not a film for everyone, but I had a good time and was charmed by the story.