About Time ★★★

For a film marketed as a rom-com with a slight sci-if quirk, which sounds like a slog of an experience to my sensibilities, I was pleasantly surprised by this film's final act turn, which doesn't shy away from much heavier subject matter. In the end, it genuinely tries to examine the trappings of everyday life and the hard choices made both in the benefit of those we love and for personal growth.

But for all of the idealism and optimism that Richard Curtis is famous for extolling, About Time is also a film painfully at odds with itself, oblivious - or at worst, egregiously ignorant - of the very real senses of entitlement and selfishness that lie beneath its shiny veneer. For this is a story about a man who builds a family - an entire life - around a very intimate, important secret which he keeps from the woman he loves: A secret power he selfishly wields to essentially lie and cheat his way into her life in the first place. And like the few Curtis films I've seen, this film lives in a bubble of entitlement, where everything comes just too easily and conveniently to its characters - mostly the good, but also the bad when it serves the plot.

It's not all sour though, as Bill Nighy and Domhnall Gleeson do a fantastic job of presenting their characters with equal parts charm, vitality and awkward geniality. Similarly, Rachel McAdams is sweet, quaint, and basically the darling actor epitomized by her character (or is that the other way around?) Beyond acting, the film is well crafted, especially in its reserved but well-composed cinematography and ability to deliver quite a few laughs, but it's also on the long-winded side in terms of pacing. It takes a long time to get to the heart of what matters in this film, which makes the earlier acts feel a bit like fluffy expositional overture.

In the end, it's a film that surprised me by developing its plot in a more serious direction that is able to easily connect on an emotional level, and I would be remiss not to congratulate it for being able to tug at my heart strings. But it's also seriously flawed on a level that I know Curtis hopes audiences overlook in favour of its sappily optimistic viewpoint. Sadly, I can not.

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