Richard Curtis is not going to change. That much has been made abundantly clear to us over the years. Through both his writing and directorial career he has refined a quintessential mixture of charm and slow paced lushness that have become instantly recognisable as the ‘Curtis effect’. So if you were expecting Curtis to suddenly break bad and go off course, don’t go and see About Time. As in this, his third and (claimed to be) final stint in the director’s chair, he ladles on the ‘Curtisness’ in abundance.
Settling into your seat at the cinema you know what you’re going to get. You’ll receive a bumbling upper-class Englishman, a collection of equally loveable and hateable housemates/urban family. A scatty younger sister, an American Aphrodite sent to save our clumsy protagonist and bundles of teary emotion, oh and a disproportionate amount of rain.
If you fall into the category of the British public who can still stomach this cocktail without reaching for a sedative then you’re in luck, as all of this and more is coming your way in lovey boatloads. If you fall into the segment that will find this intolerable, you should usually abstain from seeing this Curtis-fest, however not on this occasion, as you will be missing out. As after two previous attempts, Love Actually and The Boat That Rocked, Curtis has without doubt made his most profound, thought provoking, and advanced picture yet.
The film follows the fortunes of Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) and his quest to capture Mary (Rachel McAdams), and Tim’s use of his ability to time-travel and his choice to use it to entice her, as well as improve other aspects of his life. The casting of these two is nigh-on perfect, Gleeson in particular impresses with his progression from the inept, dorky public-schoolboy into the salient young husband/father.
However, as good as the romantic aspect of this picture is, it is not the best component, considering the deal is more or less sealed between the two, before halfway through the film. Where Curtis truly finds the treasure is in the father and son storyline, Nighy’s vague charm provides the perfect mixer to Gleeson’s ever progressing ‘man-in-the-making’, the two share moments of genuine affection and wonderful understanding. To combine into a perfectly tuned piece of intricate writing that comes across as devastatingly simple, smart, moving and seriously funny. Richard Curtis has provided a movie that asks questions and gives unexpectedly serious answers, whilst being unstoppably charming and definitely prickling the tear-ducts, all wrapped in an aged piece of chunky knitwear.