Monday, 9 September 2013

About Time, dir/wr. Richard Curtis, st. Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Margot Robbie

On the face of it, About Time wears the title of "The New Richard Curtis Film" with sighing unconcern. It features Domhnall Gleeson, a transparently next-gen Hugh Grant as the protagonist Tim, the bedimpled Rachel McAdams as his transatlantic belle Mary, Lydia Wilson as another Curtisian free-spirited sister, and Bill Nighy as, well, Bill Nighy. Its gently whimsical tale of love found amongst the middle classes of London is a 100-tog's worth of womb-like familiarity, appropriately and unsubtly empathically musically signposted at regular intervals. Even its teaser poster boasts the text LOVE ACTUALLY and NOTTING HILL in near-identical point font lest you forget the interchangeability of Curtis' back catalogue. So what then makes About Time his most substantial film to date? Well to begin with, Curtis isn't so preoccupied with insular relationships; the film starts out as a lightweight, almost vapid tale of twenty-something lust but soon transcends into a surprisingly moving allegory concerning the prioritisation of fleeting time and its stubbornly, at times infuriatingly linear path. The gift that Tim's Father (Nighy) bestows upon his son the morning of his 21st birthday - the information that the men in the family have an unexplained ability to travel back and forth within their lifespans - is a device whose mechanics and operation is shrewdly sidelined in favour of its consequences; this isn't a film about time-travel and butterfly effects, it's a film about living despite the world. It's all tediously accessible of course - there's not much that's open to interpretation, however it's notably brutal in its emotional unfolding and its depiction of events that have, might have and must happen to us as we're manhandled through life. A Richard Curtis film that offers a little weight and complexity? Given his 24-year-long career, it's about time.