May Film Review: About Time

I only have one film for you to watch this month. It is my favourite film, so I feel justified in giving it my undivided attention. Even better, everyone in my flat agrees that it is a good film. To put this in context, our differing opinions on the quality of Mad Max Fury Road led to several arguments culminating in a flat rule banning the discussion of Furiosa under any circumstances. So, for us to agree on something, let alone that a film is good, is a massive achievement. Therefore, without further ado, let me introduce you to About Time

This spin on a rom-com tells the story of Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), who finds he has time travelling abilities that allow him to change decisions he has made throughout his life. With this power, Tim seeks love, which he finds in Mary (Rachel McAdams).  

About Time is directed and written by Richard Curtis (Love ActuallyNotting Hill). Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that the film is incredible. Curtis is as good at British rom-coms as John Hughes is at 80s American coming-of-age films. He is to middle-class London what Cadbury’s is to chocolate. To me, he is perfect. But what sets this apart from Curtis’s prior work, or any other rom-com for that matter, is that it celebrates ordinary life.  

Tim and Mary’s romance, time travel aside, isn’t the mind-blowing, ultra-beautiful fireworks that most rom-coms feature. The two are not soulmates, as an awkward time-travel-altered encounter between Mary and Tim proves. Furthermore, unlike most rom-coms, the film does not end with their marriage and the promise of a happily-ever-after. Tim and Mary fight, and in a way that can’t be fixed by a big flash mob or any other swoon-worthy romantic gesture. Their marriage is something they both must work on. Tim’s ability to time travel and erase the arguments is surprisingly not the answer. Instead, Curtis chose to present Tim’s life as best when arguments and heartache are kept in; life is boring without it. 

The whole message of the story is that it is best to not have extraordinary powers and to live a completely ordinary life than to have them and live extraordinarily. By the end of the film there is a sense that life as most people live it is something to be coveted. The special, unachievable lives of those such as Hugh Grant’s travel book seller in Notting Hill, who magically bags the movie star, are presented as subpar to that of Tim and Mary. When Tim is given the chance to get the ‘dream girl’, he realises that Mary is the love of his life. Mary, who is neither an amazingly sexy woman way out of his league or a non-traditionally beautiful girl with a personality to rival the greatest comedians. Mary, who, in other words, is completely and utterly ordinary.  

Ultimately, all I can say is that this take is unique, the acting is superb and the overall motto of ‘ordinary is good’ is so refreshing that I can watch About Time every day for the rest of my life and not get bored. I really hope you watch it too.

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