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At the age of 21, Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) discovers he can travel in time... The night after another unsatisfactory New Year party, Tim's father (Bill Nighy) tells his son that the men in his family have always had the ability to travel through time. Tim can't change history, but he can change what happens and has happened in his own life-so he decides to make his world a better place...by getting a girlfriend. Sadly, that turns out not to be as easy as you might think. Moving from the Cornwall coast to London to train as a lawyer, Tim finally meets the beautiful but insecure Mary (Rachel McAdams). They fall in love, then an unfortunate time-travel incident means he's never met her at all. So they meet for the first time again-and again-but finally, after a lot of cunning time-traveling, he wins her heart. Tim then uses his power to create the perfect romantic proposal, to save his wedding from the worst best-man speeches, to save his best friend from professional disaster and to ... Written by
Initial impressions of a book, film, play, piece of music etc. can sometimes be ill-considered. I have occasionally revised my opinion of such a work with the passage of time. I am confident, however, that I shall not change my view on "About Time", the sheer brilliance of which has quite bowled me over. It's not only one of the very best films I have seen recently. It's one of the best I have ever seen. Yes, I think it's that good.
"About Time" is a romantic comedy about the vicissitudes of life and love. It's witty, clever, intelligent and very funny. But it's also a film of perhaps quite surprising depth. The centrepiece of the film is the relationship between Tim (Domnhall Gleeson), a young lawyer living in London, and his father (Bill Nighy), who lives with Tim's mother (Lindsay Duncan) in Cornwall. Tim's father is able to time travel. He cannot change history when doing so; but he can revisit past experiences and incidents within his own life and alter their outcomes. Tim has inherited this ability from his father (a gift which apparently is hereditary on the male side of the family). He uses it to improve his love life. He builds up a strong bond and a young family with Mary (Rachel McAdams). But he soon realises that his exceptional gift does not protect him from the normal ups and downs of family life. Indeed, one of the most moving scenes in the film (and there are many) is a conversation Tim has with his father on learning that the latter has terminal cancer.
The performances, the screenplay, the direction and the soundtrack are first class. The humour is excellent. There is one very funny scene in which Tim nervously meets his prospective in-laws for the first time and blurts out an admission that he and Mary do not practise oral sex. There is also a very amusing sex scene. The soundtrack includes music performed by The Cure, Amy Winehouse and Nick Cave. Indeed, the featured Cave song, "Into My Arms", forms a motif for the themes depicted in the film and gets a specific mention by Tim's father when he is discussing his funeral arrangements with Tim.
"About Time" is a very watchable, intelligent and witty film that could so easily have descended to mawkishness and sentimentality. But it doesn't. It's a brilliant film that raises in the viewer's mind all sorts of important questions about life, love and loyalty. Do go and see it. 10/10.
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