Classic Reviews Movie Reviews

‘About Time (2013)’- Throwback Review

Here's my throwback review of Richard Curtis' About Time, a romance movie with a time travel twist.

When I first heard about 2013’s About Time for the first time and read that Rachel McAdams was going to be in the female lead, I’m pretty sure all of us were thinking the same thing, “What’s with her and dating guys who time travel?” Because she was also in The Time Traveler’s Wife, and I’m the lucky one for never enduring that melodramatic trash. Thankfully, we have to see as a better romantic comedy anybody can be attached to and even love. 

What’s the Story: Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) just learned about a family secret that’s laid upon him by his father James (Bill Nighy) when he turned 21- All the men in the family can travel back in time. Though he can’t use his abilities to change moments from history, he can change ways to improve his life. For Tim, it was all about love, which comes in the form of an American girl named Mary (McAdams). 

Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson in About Time (2013)

About Time was a movie I was bummed to miss in theaters when it came out. The reason for that was because of the lack of driving skills. But the concept sounded pretty cool, considering it would be a combination of romance and sci-fi. Sometimes that doesn’t work when it could seem complicated. So, I knew to enjoy this was going to be possible. Writer/director Richard Curtis was enough to get excited, as this was only his third and last feature film after doing Love Actually (Why all the hate, people?) and Pirate Radio, respectively. He has also been responsible for writing classic romantic comedies like Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary to positive results. As it stands with this, I’d say it’s a winner in his books in what I believe is an underrated film.

I’ve always been intrigued by time travel, especially when it’s interpreted in unique ways in the media. About Time made it sounds simple that anybody can do it. You have to be in a dark room, clench your fists and visualize the memory. But the rules make sense since the person has to remember a certain memory of their own to make it work. And what I liked is that they didn’t need to explain why this lineage is like that because you happen to accept it very quickly. But what does Tim want? All he needs is love. We see our guy makes mistakes like saying the wrong thing and did something awkward and turn them around to make himself better. While I wasn’t expecting a ton from this, it wasn’t the cliché romance movie I expected since it’s shown to be pleasantly enjoyable.  

You have Gleeson in the lead as Tim, and he’s just this charming guy you care about in succeeding in what you want to accomplish in life. His performance here was the first time I ever noticed him, he’s been in a few things before, but this was where I first recognized the name. It’s easy to fall for him since he’s relatable for the guy’s who are introverted and shy. That goes the same route with McAdam’s performance as Mary. It’s very easy how Tim falls for her, even after having a first date at a restaurant where it’s pitch black. Their chemistry is impeachable throughout where you want nothing bad to happen to them since you love them together. Honestly, I believed McAdams had more romantic chemistry with Gleeson than Gosling and Tatum combined. Truth bomb!

Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson in About Time (2013)

As for the supporting cast, you can’t go wrong with Bill Nighy in your movie, and he brought such a vibrant presence to a scene, especially when sharing with Gleeson. Margot Robbie also appeared in this as Tim’s first love interest Charlotte. Funny enough, I saw this right after The Wolf of Wall Street, and you have to be crazy to not fall in love with her whenever she’s on-screen. 

This was also hilarious, I might add. There were a few moments that were cleverly written thanks to Curtis’ knowledge of humorous dialogue. One of my favorite scenes involves Tim going back multiple times to have sex with Mary, and it was the third time that counted. Though it’s meant to be funny, it also has a great sense of heart to the story that’s appreciated. Nothing made me cry, but I genuinely felt it near the end that will touch everybody’s heart. Despite being a bit too long, never once did I feel like it got lost when the plot progresses.

When I watched this for the first time six years ago, I wondered if I had given the gift to time travel, would I use it for love. To me, yes. Believe me, if any of us were in Gleeson’s place, I would devote my entire life to win McAdam’s heart. If I was in his place, I would try my best to get my crush from college to like me, or reconnect with this girl I knew from elementary school. One can dream, can’t he? While the trailer made it look like it’s all about someone who uses this power to hook up with a beautiful woman, what I learn originally and from re-watching is finding out is also exploring a guy and his life. This also touches on anything you change and affect the future in a “Butterfly Effect” way. The most important lesson to take away from this is that it’s best to embrace life as it is because we don’t know what to expect from our everyday lives. Every one of us is important, and even when we have dreadful days that ruin who we are, sometimes it’s easy to push forward and think about what’s good.

Bill Nighy and Domhnall Gleeson in About Time (2013)

As someone who has a sensitive side for these kinds of movies, there’s nothing wrong with loving About Time. Thanks to the believable chemistry between Gleeson and McAdams and Curtis’ way of telling a time travel storyline without making it sound complicated, it ends up becoming one of those feel-good fantasies that have you thinking about two things: love and life. If you’ve never seen it, you’ll get so much out of it. And maybe some tears.

Grade: A-

About Time Movie Poster

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