You go into a romantic comedy expecting certain things; at least one awkward main character, outstandingly attractive people, inevitable love and a happy ending. You go into a Richard Curtis film (the director of Love Actually and Notting Hill to name a few), and you expect something else: Hugh Grant.
In this one respect, About Time does disappoint; there is no floppy haired, adorable Englishman to win our hearts. Yet Domhnall Gleeson, who plays Tim Lake, steps up to the mark with a bumbling, honest charm that almost eclipses Hugh Grant in my eyes, although that could be simply because I am biased towards the redheaded.
The title is fitting, really – it is About Time that a ginger is cast as a male lead in a romantic comedy, and this film certainly does feature the most red-headed cast since the Harry Potter series. This comparison too is fitting, as Gleeson did in fact play Bill Weasley in the final two movies. Apparently there aren’t that many ginger actors; the ones they do have, however, are really rather talented.
About Time follows a rather conventional plot progression – clumsy boy meets shallow girl, girl rejects him, boy then meets the perfect girl and various complications, of both the heart-warming and heartbreaking persuasion, ensue. There is one key difference, however: this ginger haired hero has the ability to travel in time. Odd? Yes. Effective? Probably not. Time travel is problematic, especially considering the questions it raises; while TV series’ like Doctor Who attempt to answer these problems, a light-hearted romantic comedy cannot even begin to touch on them. Instead, the time-travelling remains vague, with the future self apparently replacing the past self when you travel backwards.
The film pokes vaguely at the idea that living everything once is the whole point of life, and you cannot just go back for a do-over, but does not invest much commitment in attempting to add depth to a simple romance. So while including time-travel may be pleasantly surprising in this genre, it is equally rather superfluous to the film’s plot, despite appearing to be a major element. In spite of this, and other corny scenes which inevitably come with the romantic genre, it is also a genuinely moving film, full of endearing characters and realistic human interaction.
I would whole-heartedly recommend going to see About Time. It ticks all the boxes of the romantic comedy genre, while trying to bring something fresh and original to the table; a time-travelling, charming and redheaded male lead. Rachel McAdams is also mesmerising as usual, playing the insecure yet beautiful love interest, and Bill Nighy is full of his trademark dry humour as Tim’s father. So if you are looking for a light hearted, typically British comedy and are heartily sick of re-watching Hugh Grant’s floppy hair, you will not be disappointed.
Reviewed by Emily Francine Palmer
Rating out of 10: 7
About Time opens 17 October 2013