I went to see this film today, a week late, because of having been to Toronto, but I can safely say that even if I could, I would not travel back in time to see it again for the first time. That experience is behind me, and I can get on with the rest of my life. It is truly, deeply awful.
It is also silly, sentimental, smug, stupid, stupendouslyawful, stunnunglybad and anything else beginning with ‘s’ that conveys quite how appalling this film is. I would say that it makes Groundhog Day look like a masterpiece, but it already is one. So I’ll just have to say that it makes other Richard Curtis films look like masterpieces – and they aren’t.
Domnhall Gleeson plays Tim, a gangling and ginger 21 year old who lives in an idyllic seaside house in Cornwall, with daddy (Bill Nighy) and mummy (Lindsay Duncan), and the slightly daffy sister who is an obligatory extra in a Curtis film. There’s simple but delightful Uncle Desmond, who has escaped from a Dickens novel (Mr Dick in David Copperfield), plus an idiot best friend for Tim, and a neurotic landlord. No one is normal in a Curtis film; they’re all caricatures of real people.
For his 21st birthday Nighy tells his son that the male members of the family have the capacity to go back in time (within their own life span) and do things differently. Since Tim is desperate for a girlfriend, when he meets Rachel McAdams, and decides that she is the one, he uses this technique (which involves going into a cupboard, shutting your eyes, clenching your fists and thinking hard) to make sure his wooing goes well, including disposing of a rival, by foul means. In fact the whole thing is pretty creepy. IN any given relationship with Tim (or his dad), the other person is just a pawn in their game, where any action can be repeated indefinitely, with you (the other) none the wiser.
The reason that Groundhog Day works (apart from the genius of Bill Murray) is that the film is about his self development and realising that what we do for other people is more important than what we do for ourselves, but without the preachy stuff, and with lots of sarcasm.
About Time has more life lessons than it needs, and also contains an annoying voiceover. In addition, neither Gleeson or McAdams have any screen charisma, or chemistry with each other. She he smiles so relentlessly, it’s almost enough to make you feel nostalgic about Andie McDowell.
I have heard and read people speak well of this film, and doubtless some of you will be lured by the promise of the trailer, and the presence of Bill Nighy. Neither of these inducements is enough. The film is lazy, shallow, and beyond redemption. Save yourself some time, and avoid it.
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