Richard Curtis, the man behind the mega-hit Brit-romantic comedies like Notting Hill and Love Actually, is back with his most personal movie to date.
The writer-director who’s voice is synonymous with heart-felt, genuine comedy and warmth, brings us About Time.
About Time stars Rachel McAdams and Curtis’ on-screen representative, Bill Nighy, as well as newcomer, Domhnall Gleeson. Considering that Hugh Grant basically owes his successful career to Curtis, thanks to Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, Gleeson should probably take pride in the fact that he has already been referred to as a “ginger Hugh Grant.”
Beginning in the idyllic setting of Cornwall by the English coastline, Tim (Gleeson) is 21 when he’s told by his father (Nighy) that men in their family have the ability to travel in time. Obviously Tim thinks his dad is losing his marbles until he tries it out, and gets to relive a disappointing New Year’s Eve party.
Soon after Tim leaves his beautiful life in Cornwall to move to London where he plans to make it as a lawyer. Though if the movie is to be believed, it’s easier to become a successful lawyer in England than it is to meet a single woman. Eventually though Tim finds Mary (Rachel McAdams). Goofy, but clearly beautiful, because, well, she’s Rachel McAdams, the two bond over an odd appreciation of Kate Moss. I was counting down the seconds before Moss made a cameo, alas it doesn’t come…so I guess that’s kind of a spoiler alert.
All the while, Tim becomes more and more comfortable with his Marty McFly-esque escapades. In London, Tim initially lives with disturbed playwright Harry (Tom Hollander), who’s the best character in the movie. He also deals with his sister’s issues, it turns out she can time-travel, and occasionally heads back to Cornwall to check up on the rest of eccentric family.
In the casting of Domhnall Gleeson, a relative unknown, Richard Curtis takes a new departure, he tells Heavy, about the initial process:
At first Domhnall was very difficult to cast. He turned up with this enormous orange beard, and he looked like a 35-year-old Russian autocrat. It was hard for me to imagine what he actually even looked like, but in the end it was an east decision. He has a lot of the qualities I most love in an actor and actually has them as a human being. He has doubt, high spirits and optimism.
The process was slightly easier for Gleeson, who wanted in on the movie after reading the script:
It was sweet relief reading the script. It had so much to say about a way of living your life that I found valuable and beautiful. That was Richard’s introduction to the film for me, and that was what I tried to keep close to my heart while we filmed.
With the advent of Gleeson, and also McAdams, two people that Curtis hasn’t worked with before, he felt the need to bring in a friendly face, so step forward Bill Nighy. About Time marks the fourth time the pair have worked together, with Nighy telling Heavy that he only accepted the role on the basis that he didn’t “have to act,” he adds:
I love working with Richard. My character can travel through time, and the lesson head learned in his life is to keep things simple and treasure the normal things. What counts is tenderness, love and respect between yourself and other human beings. All those things sustain him.
There’s no doubt that cynics do not enjoy Curtis’ movies. You have to let go to enjoy a movie of this nature, the kind of qualities that will make it a perfect date movies. The actors are all strong, with Gleeson asserting himself as a possible leading man. The plot though is formulaic and the musical score reminds us when to be sad, which is a bit much.
One of the most interesting scenes, which has very little to do with the plot, is when Tim attends one of Harry’s plays. The two actors in the play are played by Richard E. Grant and Richard Griffiths. When Griffiths appears is represented the most emotional part of the movie, as it proved to be his final role, Griffiths died in March 2013 age 65.
If you’re a fan of Curtis’ other movies, than this will fit in nicely with your collection, if not, unless you’re on a first date, you should probably avoid this one.
So with that in mind, and it’s good to be positive, because Richard Curtis is just so bloody likable, if there’s a better date movie in 2013, then I haven’t seen it.