From “Notting Hill” to “Love Actually” and “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” Writer/Director Richard Curtis has perfected the boy-meets-girl love story. In his latest venture, “About Time,” he keeps the sentimental tone of ‘love at first sight’ and adds a touch of family values. Unfortunately, this time-traveling tale doesn’t live up to expectations. If you’re looking for the Brit’s signature style of ‘romantic comedy,’ this film falls off the beaten path.
While Hugh Grant has always been Curtis’s go-to leading man, the witty narrator has been replaced with Domhnall Gleeson (Anna Karenina). At first sight, Gleeson is not what you would call a dashing romantic hero, but more of an awkward fiery red-headed bloke. Throughout the film, I couldn’t help but wish someone else was cast in the primary role. Gleeson appears to lack that star quality that should carry a film. The story follows Tim Lake, who quickly discovers that he has inherited a special power. He can travel back in time to any moment in his life. Along the way, he finds this gift to be both a blessing and a curse. The first part of the film has great potential to keep audience’s hearts on the edge of their seat, but that excitement soon fades.
Perhaps the problem with this film lies in the time-traveling aspect and the fact that the protaganist seems to live a near perfect life. Moving back and forth in time creates a choppy plot and the audience is left with one sympathy card; Tim’s sister (Lydie Wilson) is an alcoholic.The movie certainly does not lack in touching moments, especially surrounding the father-son relationship between Gleeson’s character, Tim and Billy Nighy, who as always gives a humorous and endearing performance.
As far as Gleeson and his on-camera love, Rachel McAdams, their characters are not easily remembered. We have seen McAdams play this role before in films such as the “The Vow,” “The Notebook,” etc. Displaying little depth, a lot of crying and standing in the spotlight looking pretty.
While there are beautiful moments to this movie, I fear that “About Time” is – for the most part – a disappointing journey.
By Pamela Price