FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last Friday I saw “About Time,” which stars Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens), Rachel McAdams (Doctor Strange, The Time Traveller’s Wife), Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest), Lydia Wilson (Star Trek: Beyond, Never Let Me Go), Lindsay Duncan (Birdman or [The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance], Under the Tuscan Sun), Richard Cordery (Les Misérables , Madame Bovary), Joshua McGuire (Lovesick [TV series], Mr. Turner), Tom Hollander (Pride & Prejudice, Gosford Park), Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, The Wolf of Wall Street), Will Merrick (Skins [TV series], Poldark [TV series]), and Vanessa Kirby (Mission: Impossible- Fallout, The Crown [TV series]). It is written and directed by Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Pirate Radio). At the ripe age of twenty-one, Tim (Gleeson) is told by his father (Nighy) that he has time-travel abilities, being able to go back in time to correct any wrongs he has made. Having the power to essentially change his path, Tim decides to use it to get a girlfriend, but soon finds that getting someone to love him cannot be obtained through even supernatural abilities.
Romance and time-travel; what a way to pack all audiences in the theater. At least, when they came out with this movie five years ago that is. Funny enough, I reviewed another time-traveling romance starring Rachel McAdams called “The Time-Traveler’s Wife.” I guess the concept of playing the love interest of a man who can freely traverse time interests her, considering how she also did the same thing in “Doctor Strange” a while ago. But instead of Benedict Cumberbatch, she gets to fawn over the brilliant Domhnall Gleeson, who I really haven’t seen turn in a great product since “Ex Machina” (sure, I thought “Force Awakens” was good, but his performance was strictly one-dimensional to fit the bad guy type). I was hoping he could wow me once more in “About Time,” a movie title that seemingly has two different meanings (one a saying, another a literal statement of what this film is about), but those expectations were difficult to be met due to the strange nature of this feature. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s a peculiar film to really dig into as it is a clash between both a real perspective on time in life and a supernatural perspective on time to get the woman you love. Hence this being a romance AND a sci-fi feature (not that it needed much explaining). What you’d expect of my reaction would be adequate: I enjoyed the parts where time was explored as a concept rather than the romance bits. That’s not to say I’m not a romantic; I can be, if it’s written and acted well. In the case of “About Time,” it’s hard to say I thought the development of Tim and Mary was good, especially when all was dropped to focus on the subject of time and the nature of it. When it comes to any movie that has time-traveling in it, things can get messy, whether it’s story plausibility or raw development of characters. This story of Tim and Mary wasn’t really even a love story; rather, it was a tale of a man using time travel to make all the right choices to get in bed with a woman (and hopefully have her as his one-and-only). To say Mary was a character of her own would be a lie. Tim was our main guy, and while I could relate to him on some level, it proved to be a challenge to really care for his relationship with Mary. When they first meet (out of spontaneity), their chemistry seems natural and fitting. However, because Tim makes a change to help one of his friends, he loses the interaction he had with Mary, forcing him from then on to search for her and get in a relationship with her. Seems harmless, but most of what followed came off as weird and awkward to me, as Tim gained previous knowledge of Mary and applied it to timelines where they haven’t even met before. If the writer wasn’t trying to sell me on true love, I wouldn’t be up in arms about it as much as I am, but because the first half of this is a romance where a guy wants to find the one for him, I can’t help but be put off by how he obtains her. Half of this movie focuses on their love (or Tim’s corrections to make it so), eventually changing into a film about time itself and how we deal with it. To me, it turned around for the better. Time is always an interesting concept to tackle, especially in how it affects people, and Tim faces a lot of challenges towards the end of the second act and into the third. He grew as a character and I grew more attached to his story as a result. Heck, I even teared up at one part in the third act because of how well time travel was utilized to strengthen a character moment. Suddenly, I forgot that this was a romance and became engaged in this plot about how people need to make the most of their time, and how having the ability to change things can have consequences. I finished “About Time” satisfied, though that doesn’t mean it was a great movie all around. It’s often said that the ending of a film is what determines whether it was good or not; a flick can be fantastic throughout, but be easily forgotten or hated on if the ending is crappy. “About Time” is a reversal of this, where it’s conclusion is better than what we started with. Even if I were to tell people to watch this because it had a strong second half, they’d still have to wait through the dull first half to get to that point. Of course, there were moments in the first act I liked (Tim was a relatable figure. His family even held movie nights on Fridays), but by the time you get to the end of the second half, most of it is forgotten. The character of Mary took a backseat once their relationship met its height; not like she had much to do when he was trying to get with her anyway. And obviously, it’s easier to enjoy a story where a man learns about time and life rather than see him just try to get with a girl (at least for me, I can’t speak for most). Everything else that made up this feature was rather solid. I thought the acting was good for the story; Domhnall Gleeson did well and Rachel McAdams was nice. The cinematography was interesting, often opting for a shaky-cam documentary look. The locations that came with it created a beautiful atmosphere and the score, while consistently using the same notes, was well-done. There are plenty of things to like in “About Time,” but you have to wait until halfway through for it to really kick-off. If you’re into romance, you may enjoy it all in its entirety, but it all depends on what you think about Tim and Mary’s relationship. I’d say I enjoyed it overall, falling in love with its focus on time and being left disappointed with its development of the focal relationship. FINAL SCORE: 70%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: