Tim Lake is about to learn he was born into a family of Quantum Leaping time travelers. According to his father, it only
applies to the men, so his mother and sister remain oblivious to their theoretically
great power. Like Scott Bakula, they can
only jump backwards within their own lifetimes.
There will be only one hard and fast rule for them to follow when Four Weddings and a Funeral director
Richard Curtis gets his Groundhog Day on
with About Time (trailer here), which screens
during the 51st New York Film Festival.
Lake’s dad drops the H.G. Wells bomb on his 18th birthday, the shy
teen assumes it is a joke. Obviously,
romantically challenged, Tim’s tries uses the family talent to woo his
free-spirited sister Kit Kat’s hot houseguest, Charlotte. Yet, she is not having him, regardless of how
many do-overs he takes. He will have better luck Mary, a Yank who you could
definitely bring home to meet the family.
he does just that. Domestic bliss and moderate professional success seem to be
well within the adult Lake’ grasp, but he worries about his increasingly
depressed sister. When he tries to
prevent her meeting Mr. Wrong, he discovers the one big catch of time travel. When
asked, it turns out his exceptionally laidback father has one or two more
revelations in store for him.
surrounding About Time, including
Curtis’s reputation, screams romantic comedy, but that simply is not the
case. Granted, the first act is devoted
to Tim’s clumsily courtship of Mary, but that is simply a way to establish the
parameters of the time travel system (only to break them shortly thereafter). About Time is really a father-son
relationship dramedy, but a pretty good one.
the most popularly accessible film at this year’s NYFF, About Time is not exactly awards bait per se, but any Oscar
campaigner worth their salt should be willing to take a shot with Bill Nighy.
As usual, he is a model of wit and sophistication, but he delivers the big
fatherly pay-off in spades. Yet, still he maintains that understated persona,
foreswearing mawkish sentiment.
Gleeson is appealingly earnest as Lake, plus he has red hair. However, Rachel
McAdams looks rather out of place as Mary, not that it matters. Women in
general are rather passive in About Time,
essentially playing the role predestined by their time traveling men. Even
Lindsay Duncan, the dread terror from Le Week-End, plays a decidedly subordinate role as Tim’s mother.
like Curtis’s past crowd pleasers, About
Time is peppered with colorful supporting turns and near cameos, notably
including Richard E. Grant and the late great Richard Griffiths as two hammy
stage actors. Surprisingly, British TV veteran Richard Cordery steals the show
when we least expect it as Lake’s eccentric Uncle Desmond. Pan Am’s Margot Robbie certainly looks the part of Charlotte the temptress
(which adds entertainment value). On the other hand, Tom Hughes is
conspicuously miscast (again) as Kit Kat’s bad boy boyfriend Jimmy Kincade.
Time bends its own rules
left and right, but viewers will just have to deal with it. (This is
fantastical time travel rather than the science fictional variety.) Curtis is
more interested in building to emotional moments, which resonate considerably
more deeply than one would expect. Recommended for fans of Nighy and mainstream
relationship-driven fantasy, About Time screens
tonight (10/1), tomorrow (10/2), and Sunday (10/6) as a Main Slate selection of
the 2013 New York Film Festival.
Labels: Bill Nighy, British Cinema, NYFF '13, Time Travel Films