British writer-director Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually) returns with what he claims is the "anti-time-travel time-travel movie". In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Curtis also states, "You'll understand once you see it." About Time will be his final directorial attempt (though he will continue screenwriting).
Domhnall Gleeson plays Tim, a shy 21-year-old, who just went to a New Year's Eve party he'd rather forget. The next day, his affable father (Bill Nighy) tells him about a family secret that will forever change his life. The secret: all of the men can travel back in time, but only within their own lifetime. More time-travel rules are sprinkled in throughout the movie, but time-travel buffs may have issues with its logic and lack of specifics (because in most films dealing with time-travel, they always do).
I hardly noticed any time-travel holes, but if there were, it's because I was wrapped up in what the story was really about"”Tim getting a girlfriend! That's when the usually lovely Rachel McAdams comes in as the usually lovely woman we're accustomed to seeing on screen. The bubbly chemistry between her and Gleeson is pleasant to watch, and their romance dominates most of the screen time, but it's not the most important relationship in the story.
The most nuanced and magical love story is between Nighy and Gleeson. Though the film is packed with strong acting, without question it is Bill Nighy who delivers the greatest performance in such an effortless way. I wish there was more screen time for him and Gleeson because their time together never felt rehearsed. Their father-son storyline may play out ordinarily, but their execution of it showcased the most moving relationship I had seen on screen so far this year. It's what elevates this movie from being solid to almost great.
Lydia Wilson, Tom Hollander, and Richard Cordery are the standouts among the rest of the cast. Some of the biggest laughs come from these three, but as a comedy, this film had me chuckling and grinning from ear to ear. And while I understand why the film chooses to linger on certain characters and their relationship with Tim (Gleeson), it lacks the richness that's present in the scenes with Tim's father. Case and point: Tim also has a mum (Lindsay Duncan), but the film never explores a bit of their relationship. She had a hand in raising him, too!
Does About Time sound like an anti-time-travel time-travel movie? There are other messages in it that may come off as obvious, uninspiring, or didactic. I felt the opposite, but you may have a different opinion after you find out for yourself. I'm not trying to rush you into making a decision or anything. By all means, take your time.