(4) ABOUT TIME, with Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy.
Directed by Richard Curtis. (Walmer Park, Bridge)
Reviewed by Jenny McCartney
THERE has always been something fantastical about the world that Richard Curtis evokes on film, stuffed with characters who display a range of lovable yet unthreatening English eccentricities. In About Time, those quirks stretch to a rip in history.
Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) grows up with his mysteriously well-off, bohemian family in Cornwall, having suppers on the beach and playing table tennis. Then, on his 21st birthday, Tim’s dad (Bill Nighy, almost exploding with tics denoting wry, diffident charm) tells him that the men of the family have the ability to travel back in time.
If they go somewhere dark – a wardrobe, say – clench their fists and focus, they can nip back in time and tweak things for the better.
Before long, Tim is changing his awkward New Year’s Eve handshake with a girl to a suave kiss, and honing his seduction technique with his sister’s friend.
He goes to London to become a lawyer, and meets an American girl, Mary (Rachel McAdams), in a restaurant where the selling point is that all the diners eat in the dark, served by blind waiters.
Luckily, out under the street lamps, Mary turns out to be quite a cutie. Gleeson, in turn, has a lovely face: fine and sharp with a sweet smile. If they were my neighbours, I’d be pleased: you could ask them to turn the music down and they’d both say "Oops . . . sorry!”
They never really row. They’re pretty much on the same page about life. They bring up their children sweetly and without incident, and the jokes are shared and mild.
Death taps the family on the shoulder, and the message from Curtis – emphasised for over two hours – is that we should treasure the days we have, appreciate the little ordinary things that pile up into happiness.
That seems a sensible and good thing to remember, but the truth is that Tim, for all his manifest virtues, is a bit dull. I know that’s the point: that dullness is not to be sneezed at, when it can deliver such trustworthy rewards – but it doesn’t quite sell a story. – Daily Telegraph