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Rewind and Redo – A review of About Time
Title: About Time
Production Company: Working Title Films
Run Time: 123 minutes
Director: Richard Curtis
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy
Summary: If life came with a reset button, what would you do with it? This movie is romance/comedy/drama so the focus is on love, but oh, what potential.
Everyone, at some point in their life, has that moment – that epiphany – where they wish they could take back something they either did or said.
Of course, life would be completely different if we had the real opportunity to do just that. And that’s the ultimate premise of this romantic/comedic tale of a young man stumbling through his life just trying to find the girl of his dreams.
And he does, on what is truly a blind date. He and his best friend have dinner in a completely darkened restaurant. It isn’t until the date is over that he actually meets Mary, the young lady he has been pleasantly conversing with all evening long.
But if I had the same first date, I think if she were as gorgeous as Rachel McAdams, I would probably be staring at her all evening, creep her out and end up with no possibility for date two, so maybe this darkened restaurant idea isn’t so bad after all.
The way Tim (played by a charming red-headed bloke named Domhnall Gleeson) finds out about his extraordinary gift is through his dad (Bill Nighy) who pulls him aside on his 21st birthday. It turns out all the men in their family have the same gift. They can slip into a dark closet and think their way back in time to a point where they can then “fix” their own mistakes or those of their loved ones around them.
What subsequently ensues is a series of experiments and experiences that explore the nuances and potentials of the gift. Of course the downsides are also explored as well.
For instance, when Tim tries to save his uncle’s stage play from a disastrous opening night performance, he almost loses the love of his life – until a “chance” encounter at a museum showing stills of model Kate Moss bring our two love birds back together again.
(Keep an eye out here for the late Richard Griffiths from the Harry Potter movies who plays an actor in the stage play and manages to steal this and the subsequent scene. This is Griffiths’ final film appearance which was completed before his untimely passing in March of this year.)
What the film takes into account, though, is the probable effect that bouncing back and forth through time will have on the young couple. Nighy warns that, if he travels back to a time before his child is born, returning to the present will create an entirely different child. Not necessarily a good thing here.
This, of course, begs the question. Since father (who is not named – a stunningly blatant overlook in an otherwise very good film) can also bounce around in time, wouldn’t HIS meddlings have an effect on his offspring’s offspring?
But that is, ultimately, the shortcoming of nearly all time-travel screen adventures. Any interference could create any number of diabolical catastrophes in the known space/time continuum so that smarter men than us should, in the future, ban any possibility of the practice should it become possible to twist the fabric of time and space.
From a scientific standpoint (or if you tend to overanalyze the connotations to a vast degree, rather like I just did) this film can’t hold an ounce (let alone two hours) of credibility. But I’m a sucker for romantic comedies, so let me set all the implausibilities aside for a moment and just take a gander at the underlying story.
As a romantic comedy, this movie plays all of and just the right number of notes. Both leads are charming and disarmingly fun to watch. And the situations they find themselves in are ripped from anyone’s page of true life travels, complete with missteps and imperfections.
Watching the movie for what it is meant to be will leave you believing that perfect romances are possible, with or without the do-overs. And isn’t that what we all deserve in life?
I give About Time 4 out of 5 stars.