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 who has watched it so far 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 is that Mad Max cannot be discussed 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 at the age of 21, finds he has time travelling abilities that allow him to change decisions he has made throughout his life. With this power, Tim seeks to make the world a better place and, more practically, love, which he finds in Mary (Rachel McAdams).
About Time is directed and written by Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting 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. 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 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 both have to work at and 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.
In fact, the whole message of the story is that it is best to not have powers like time travel 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 gets a movie star to fall in love with him, 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 who will suddenly become beautiful through the power of love. 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.