About Time (2013) Directed by Richard Curtis. With Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Tom Hollander, Vanessa Kirby, Will Merrick and Margot Robbie.
For his third directorial offering, Richard Curtis returns to the silver screen with this whimsical love story about a young man (Domhnall Gleeson) blessed with the unique ability to time travel to specific moments in his life. Mere mention of Curtis’ name in association with big screen romantic offerings, immediately brings to mind Notting Hill and perhaps most famously, Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Indeed, given the success of those films, it isn’t hard to imagine the lead role occupied by a young Hugh Grant. Furthermore, I spent most of the film wishing it was the case. For starters, the film isn’t anywhere near a funny as it ought to be, edging more and more towards a serious-minded tone of poignancy, reflecting on life and death as well as marriage and having babies. All of this would be fine, but there’s a creeping sense that the film is looking down its nose from a middle class standpoint, at those who do not follow the accepted route of fathering children to better themselves.
Steadily, it becomes the sort of overly sentimental, easily chucked-up guff, populated by well-to-do luvvies, all too self-congratulatory in their humour, status and intelligence that there exists a sense of alienation and absence of genuine desire to see the characters attain true happiness. Curtis even manages to repeat himself for at least the third time by giving the central character a ditzy sister and an American girlfriend, à la Notting Hill and Four Weddings.
What begins promisingly, becomes excessively mawkish as the run-time clocks up. Gleeson doesn’t have the natural comic timing of a Hugh Grant, nor the charm. As the film starts preaching about what it perceives to be true happiness, the darker aspects of the story, i.e – that the central character is manipulating the lives of those nearest and dearest, for his own selfishness – creates a layer of ignorance that might have been easier to swallow had the film been lighter on its feet, and funnier. 2/5