About Time (2013 film)

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About Time
A girl in a red dress, laughing in the rain, alongside a tall red-haired man wearing a suit.
Teaser poster
Directed byRichard Curtis
Produced by
Written byRichard Curtis
Starring
Music byNick Laird-Clowes
CinematographyJohn Guleserian
Editing byMark Day
StudioWorking Title Films
Relativity Media
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
  • 27 June 2013 (2013-06-27) (EIFF)
  • 4 September 2013 (2013-09-04) (United Kingdom)
Running time123 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$12 million[2]
Box office$87,100,449[2][3]
 
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About Time
A girl in a red dress, laughing in the rain, alongside a tall red-haired man wearing a suit.
Teaser poster
Directed byRichard Curtis
Produced by
Written byRichard Curtis
Starring
Music byNick Laird-Clowes
CinematographyJohn Guleserian
Editing byMark Day
StudioWorking Title Films
Relativity Media
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
  • 27 June 2013 (2013-06-27) (EIFF)
  • 4 September 2013 (2013-09-04) (United Kingdom)
Running time123 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$12 million[2]
Box office$87,100,449[2][3]

About Time is a British romantic dramedy film revolving around time travel where a young man tries to change his past to have a better future.[4] Written and directed by Richard Curtis,[5][6] and starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy. The film was released in the United Kingdom on 4 September 2013 and in the United States on 1 November 2013.[7]

Plot[edit]

At the age of 21, Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) discovers he can travel in time. Tim's father (Bill Nighy) tells his son that the men in his family have always had this ability. Upon learning this, Tim goes back to the night of a recent New Year's Eve party where at midnight he had been too shy to kiss someone and rectifies the situation.

The following summer, Charlotte (Margot Robbie), a cousin of Tim's sister's boyfriend, comes to spend time with the family. Tim has an instant attraction and come the end of her stay, decides to let her know. She tells him that he left it too late to do anything, and so Tim travels back to an earlier point. This time, Charlotte says that they should wait until her last day and talk again. Tim realises that she is not attracted to him and that time travel will not be able to help change her mind. He watches her leave, heartbroken.

Later, Tim decides to move to London to pursue a career as a lawyer. He moves in with an acquaintance of his father, Harry, who is a struggling playwright. After some months living in London, Tim's friend comes to visit and they visit a Dans le Noir establishment, where Tim meets Mary (Rachel McAdams). They seem to be attracted to each other; and, outside when Tim gets to see her, he falls in love. He gets her phone number and returns home to find out Harry's play's opening night was a disaster as the lead actor forgot his lines. Tim then goes back in time and attends the play and, after many complications, ensures the play is a success. Later, Tim attempts to call Mary only to find her number is not in his phone. He realises that by going to the play instead of the blind date means he never met Mary. Remembering something from the date, Tim eventually locates Mary and learns that she has a boyfriend (met after the night of the play). Tim decides to go back to the point where she met her boyfriend and ensures she never meets him, instead going out on a date with Tim. They become a couple, with Tim eventually moving in with Mary. At one point, he meets Charlotte again. He walks her back to her apartment and she invites him inside. Tim turns her down and runs back to his apartment and proposes to Mary. She accepts, and they learn later that she is pregnant with Tim's child. Months pass and Tim sparingly uses time travel to help alter minor details of his life to benefit himself.

On the first birthday of Mary and Tim's daughter, Posy, Kit Kat crashes her car after a row with her boyfriend, Jimmy, who has been nothing but bad news for her since they met at the New Year's Eve party Tim first travelled back to. Tim, deciding it best she never met him, tells her about his ability to time-travel and takes her back to the party to make sure they indeed never meet, but upon returning to present time finds the butterfly effect means that Tim never had Posy. Instead, a boy was born in her place. After speaking to his father, Tim learns that once his child was born, travelling back to a time before the child's birth will in fact stop that child from ever being born, as time will happen differently in every aspect of his life. He further learns from his father that he can restore the original timeline in which he has a daughter. Tim reluctantly has to watch Kit Kat go through the pain of breaking up with her boyfriend to ensure Posy is born. Kit Kat and Tim's friend, Jay, become a couple and eventually have a child together. More time passes and Tim has another child with Mary.

One day, Tim learns that his father has terminal cancer and learns that this is also something time travel cannot change. Tim learns his father has known for quite some time but kept travelling back in time to effectively extend his life and spend more time with his family, but is now ready to die. Eventually his father dies, but Tim keeps travelling back into the past (when his father was still alive) so that he may see and speak to him. Eventually, Mary says she wants another child. Tim also wants another but knows doing so means he won't be able to visit his father in the past again after the baby is born. After speaking with his father, Tim decides it is the right thing to do. After visiting his dad for the following nine months until the time eventually comes for Mary to give birth, Tim goes back one last time and lets his father know that this is the last time he will visit him. They then both travel back in time together when Tim was a small boy and relive a fond memory of them playing on the beach. Before Tim travels back to the present, his father tells him to re-live each day, once with all the stresses as a normal person faces, and then the second knowing what to expect from the day, and to embrace it and enjoy the day for exactly what it is. Tim does this for some time but then comes to realise that it is better to live each day once, as if it was his last, and to try and enjoy his life with his family like everyone else does. The film ends with Tim getting his three children ready for school, joyously relishing in the wonder of his world.

Cast[edit]

Zooey Deschanel had been in talks for the role of Mary but ultimately the role went to McAdams.[8][9]

Production[edit]

Curtis has said this is likely to be his last film as director, but that he will continue in the film industry.[10]

The film was initially scheduled to be released on 10 May 2013, release was pushed back to 1 November 2013.[7] The film premiered on 8 August 2013 as part of the Film4 Summer Screen outdoor cinema series at London's historic Somerset House.[11] It was released in the UK on 4 September 2013 and in the US in limited release on 1 November 2013 and in wide release on 8 November 2013.[12]

Reception[edit]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 69% based on reviews from 137 critics, with an average rating of 6.3/10.[13] Metacritic, which uses a weighted mean, assigned a score of 55/100, based on reviews from 34 film critics.[14]

Catherine Shoard of The Guardian compares the film to Groundhog Day noting it "is about as close to home as a homage can get without calling in the copyright team" and describes Domhnall Gleeson as a "ginger Hugh Grant" which "at first, is unnerving; as About Time marches on, Gleeson's innate charm gleams through and this weird disconnection becomes quite compelling." Ultimately it is not the familiarity but the "uncarbonated script" that deadens the comedy. Shoard gives the film 2 stars out of 5.[15] Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph praises the comic timing of McAdams and Gleeson, but criticizes the film, comparing it to a quilt, calling it "soft, frayed at the edges, and oh so comfortable" and gives it a score of 3 stars out of 5.[16]

Leslie Felperin of Variety magazine calls the film "reassuringly bland" and says there is sense of déjà vu especially for anyone who has seen The Time Traveler's Wife also co-starring McAdams. Unlike that film she has no knowledge of his powers, resulting in a "fundamental lack of honesty in their relationship". Felperin notes British reverse snobbery would put many off this and other Curtis films but that is less of a problem among American Anglophiles and those willing to suspend disbelief, taking the characters are British "versions of Woody Allen’s Manhattanites (but with less angst)". Felperin praises the chemistry of the leading couple "that keeps the film aloft" and the supporting cast while also criticising the stock characters as being too familiar.[17]

Plot holes[edit]

Critic Mark Kermode observes that writer Curtis "sets up his rules of temporal engagement, only to break them willy-nilly whenever the prospect of an extra hug rears its head".[18]

The rules[19] as explained to Tim by his father are:

  1. Only male members of the family can travel in time.
  2. Only backwards travel in time is possible.
  3. You cannot travel back to before you were born.
  4. Travelling back to a time before your child is born will cause a different child to be born and the original child will be lost.

The film's internal logic about time travel was also criticised in other reviews:

The Independent says the explanation of time travel is "shockingly inadequate" and that "Curtis keeps leaving questions unanswered – time and time again".[20]

MaryAnn Johanson remarks that there are "arbitrary and inconsistent rules of time travel in aid of creepy romantic manipulation and temporal stalking".[21]

Steve Cummins of The Irish Post refers to Tim travelling backwards and forwards in time in saying "it's riddled with plot holes".[22]

Megan Gibson writing in Time says: "...sci-fi fans out there likely won’t be able to see [the film's] charms through the gaping time-travel plot-holes".[23]

Critic Matthew Turner points out the "big problem is the unsightly pile-up of plot holes and logic problems".[24]

Kate Erbland of Film School Rejects states "the rules and limitations of Tim's gift aren't exactly hard and fast, and the final third of the film is rife with complications that never get quite explained. Rules that previously applied suddenly don't apply... the time travel rules aren't exactly tight and are occasionally confusing".[25]

Public reception[edit]

Based on responses from 78,018 users, About Time received a rating of 7.8/10 on the Internet Movie Database.[26]

Soundtrack[edit]

Track listing[27]
  1. Ben Folds – "The Luckiest" (About Time Version)
  2. Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney & Ben Coleman – "How Long Will I Love You?"
  3. Paul Buchanan – "Mid Air"
  4. Groove Armada – "At the River"
  5. The Cure – "Friday I'm in Love"
  6. Amy Winehouse – "Back to Black"
  7. Ron Sexsmith – "Gold in Them Hills"
  8. Nick Laird-Clowes – "The About Time Theme"
  9. Nick Cave – "Into My Arms"
  10. Jimmy Fontana – "Il Mondo"
  11. Nick Laird-Clowes – "Golborne Road"
  12. The Killers – "Mr. Brightside"
  13. Sugababes – "Push the Button"
  14. t.A.T.u. – "All the Things She Said"
  15. Barbar Gough – "When I Fall in Love"
  16. Sebastien Klinger, Jürgen Kruse – "Spiegel im Spiegel"
  17. Ellie Goulding – "How Long Will I Love You?"

The trailer contains the song "Lakehouse" by Of Monsters and Men.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About Time". British Board of Film Classification. 
  2. ^ a b "About Time". The Numbers. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "About Time (2013)". Box Office Mojo. 
  4. ^ White, James. "New Pic of About Time: Richard Curts' new time-warping comedy". Empire. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Kemp, Stuart. "'War Horse' Writer Richard Curtis to Direct Time-Travel Script 'About Time' for Working Title (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Child, Ben. "Richard Curtis decides it's About Time he directed a film about time travel". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Rome, Emily. "Rachel McAdams rom-com 'About Time' gets new release date". Inside Movies. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Pulver, Andrew (11 May 2012). "Rachel McAdams to star in Richard Curtis romcom About Time". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  9. ^ Chang, Justin (2012-03-27). "Deschanel, Gleeson on 'Time' for Working Title". Variety. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  10. ^ Ben Child. "Richard Curtis: 'About Time will probably be the last film I direct'". The Guardian. 
  11. ^ "Film4 Summer Screen: About Time Competition". Channel 4. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  12. ^ "IMDb". Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  13. ^ "About Time (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster/Warner Bros. 
  14. ^ "About Time". Metacritic. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  15. ^ Catherine Shoard (August 2013). "About Time – first look review". The Guardian. 
  16. ^ Robbie Collin (8 Aug 2013). "About Time, review". The Daily Telegraph. 
  17. ^ Leslie Felperin (8 August 2013). "Richard Curtis returns to a quintessentially English milieu with this sweet, familiar and reassuringly bland romance.". 
  18. ^ Kermode, Mark (8 September 2013). "About Time — review". The Guardian. 
  19. ^ http://entertainment.time.com/2013/11/05/wrong-actually-3-time-travel-problems-in-richard-curtiss-about-time/
  20. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/why-time-does-not-travel-well-in-richard-curtis-new-film-about-time-8790311.html
  21. ^ Johanson, Mary Ann (6 September 2013). "About Time review: creep trick". FlickFilosopher.com. 
  22. ^ Cummins, Steve (6 September 2013). "About Time: Film Review". The Irish Post. 
  23. ^ http://entertainment.time.com/2013/11/05/wrong-actually-3-time-travel-problems-in-richard-curtiss-about-time/
  24. ^ Turner, Matthew (4 September 2013). "About Time Film Review". ViewLondon.co.uk. 
  25. ^ Erbland, Kate (1 October 2013). "'About Time' Review: Time-Traveling Charmer Arrives Right in the Nick". Film School Rejects. 
  26. ^ "Internet Movie Database. About Time (2013). IMdb.com. Retrieved Feb. 25, 2014". 
  27. ^ ""About Time": The Stunning Soundtrack to the New Richard Curtis Film Released on 2nd September 2013". Contactmusic.com. 

External links[edit]