Movie review: Sentiment of “About Time” is timeless

  • Photo courtesy of Universal Studios
By Columbus Alive
From the November 7, 2013 edition

“About Time” wears its sentimentality on its sleeve so boldly that, depending on your type, your eyes will either be glazed with tears or rolling.

Be forewarned for the rest of this review: I’m kind of a sentimental bastard.

Of course, you can expect sentimentality in a movie from the writer-director of “Love Actually,” Richard Curtis — who also penned scripts for “Notting Hill,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and more in this vein.

On his 21st birthday, Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) learns something extraordinary from his father (Bill Nighy). The men in his family can time travel, simply by going into a dark space, balling up their fists and thinking about the exact moment in their life they want to travel to.

There are limitations. One can only travel within their own life and experiences. “You can't kill Hitler or shag Helen of Troy,” Dad explains. Tim, as young Brits in Curtis’ movies are want to do, uses his newfound power to find a girlfriend.

For Tim, time travel is more about momentary do-overs when his bumbling gets in the way of love. His eventual love comes in the form of Mary (Rachel McAdams), and we see about a decade in their lives unfold onscreen.

Curtis keeps the emotional focus tight on both family and love, and the small scale of his time-travel device is adorable if precocious. Like I said, roll your eyes if you want.

He’s got an absolutely charming class of actors. Gleeson — who played Weasley brother Bill in the “Harry Potter” films — evokes Hugh Grant (in a good way). McAdams continues to be the next-gen sweetheart. And Nighy is absolutely fantastic in the role that actually brought on some watering eyes for me.

If “About Time” was gentle, warm and entertaining for its first hour, the final act really hit home for me. Curtis isn’t subtle about his themes — enjoying simple moments and savoring every bit of the love in our lives — but I know more than a few people who could use this lesson.

It’s a warm, wonderful little movie — perfect for date night, obviously.