Susan Granger's review of 'About Time'
Published 12:21 pm, Saturday, November 9, 2013
After "Love Actually," "Notting Hill," "Four Weddings and a Funeral," Richard Curtis creates an inventive, feel-good fantasy fable about life, love and living every day as if it were your first -- or last.
The dramedy commences when his loving father (Bill Nighy) tells Tim Lake (Dornhall Gleason) on his 21st birthday that he can time travel backwards within his own lifetime; it's an extraordinary gift bestowed on the men in his family. At first, Tim doesn't believe him, but when he realizes he can redo that New Year's Eve kiss -- making it far better the second time -- and re-meet Mary (Rachel McAdams), the woman he adores (making sure she doesn't fall in love with anyone else), this genetic legacy enhances his life tremendously, allowing him to revisit and repair regrettable experiences.
British writer/director Curtis excels at charming, witty romantic comedy, so when Tim is courting Mary, daffy, self-deprecating delight reigns, particularly at their rain-soaked wedding. But when Curtis shifts the narrative's focus to helping Tim's reckless kid sister Kat (Lydia Wilson) and Tim's coming to terms with his father's terminal illness, the twisty time-travel concept falters. Fortunately, Curtis doesn't delve too deeply into quantum physics, using the sci-fi device only when it suits the meandering, philosophical plot.
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But gawky, ginger-haired Gleason (Bill Weasley in the final two "Harry Potter" movies) has little of the breezy, bumbling charm that propelled Hugh Grant's characterizations; he's "too tall, too thin, too orange." On the other hand, having honed this affable, bystander character before in "The Time Traveler's Wife," McAdams is adorable and Nighy exudes idiosyncratic, naturalistic charisma as the subtly endearing bookworm who adores table tennis. Plus, there are memorable moments from Lindsay Duncan as Tim's stalwart mom, Richard Cordery as befuddled Uncle Desmond and Tom Hollander as an acerbic playwright/friend. And the Cornwall countryside is authentic and exquisite.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "About Time" is a shamelessly sentimental 7. It will tickle your funny bone and tug at your heart.