Richard Curtis’ time travelling romantic dramedy is an enjoyable, if familiar, return to form
Things weren’t looking good for Richard Curtis for a while there. Love Actually was tepid slush; The Boat That Rocked sunk. The witty scribe behind Blackadder and Four Weddings lost his mojo entirely whenever he occupied the director’s chair, and we were left wondering whether he should hang up the megaphone for good.
Happily, About Time bucks the trend. An out-and-out romance with equal helpings of comedy and drama, it follows Tim (an eminently likeable Domhnall Gleeson), who learns from his dad (Bill Nighy) that he’s capable of time travel. Armed with this new skill, Tim embarks upon a quest for love – and believes he’s found it when he encounters Mary (Rachel McAdams).
The presence of certain Curtis hallmarks – a charming if slightly bumbling Englishman; a free-spirited American love interest; a strong supporting cast of assorted upper-middle class eccentrics – verge on over-familiarity, but they provide a solid contrast for the time travel stuff. Even that hoariest of old staples, the romantic downpour, is fresh and exhilarating this time round.
The thing that really raises About Time above its romcom contemporaries, though, is the equal weight given to Tim’s two great loves. His relationship with Mary is as charming, infectious and delightful as you might expect, but his interactions with the exuberant Nighy are what gives the film its considerable heart.
About Time was the Surprise Movie at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013. General release from Fri 6 Sep.