Tuesday, 3 June 2014

About Time

Lowdown: The ability to relive life's experiences helps a guy get more out of it.
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is an ordinary British guy, even if he does come from a well off family. He's nerdish enough to miss an opportunity to have a great kiss with a nice girl at the New Year's party; similarly, he misses out on having a go at this most beautiful of girls that stays at his house all summer long because he left it out too long. What if he could have had another go at these two life experiences?
Well, he actually can. As his father (Bill Nighy) informs him, the men in the family are able to go back in time and have another go. To stop us asking pesky questions, he also tells Tom (but really, us) not to use this ability to make money or ask any pesky questions concerning the mechanics of this time travel affair, so as to allow this movie that we're watching - About Time - to continue on its course.
Well, Tim has another go. One thing leads to another and he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), the girl he properly falls in love with. You guessed it: in a very romantic comedy style way, our Tim needs several goes at Rachel before they can call themselves a couple. As a bonus, he has three goes at their first night in bed. Because, hey, why not?
If thus far About Time felt like your average romantic comedy, things eventually do take a turn. We follow Tim as he establishes his own family and as people around him get older. In other words, instead of a Tim & Mary romantic affair with a time travel element, we get a story about life in general. Things do not feel the most cohesive ever, but the message does manage to be conveyed: About Time is a film about life as a whole, about growing up, finding your way through the world, establishing a family, and living through the passing of other family members. That is to say, About Time is about the circle of life as we know it nowadays (as opposed to life as it used to be up until a hundred years ago or so, when the order of events was much less firm than it is today).
The message is clear. Us viewers do not have the ability to relive key events of our lives at will. Therefore, we should make the most of the single pass we do get. Or, as the movie itself tells us rather too explicitly, we should live each day of our lives as if it will be our last. Oddly enough, I have discussed this very view not that long ago, concluding it is indeed worthwhile to make the most out of our time here on earth but also concluding that living each day as if it was our last can be rather problematic when we turn out to live for yet another day. That is to say, About Time's message is nice; but just like its too well off and too comfortable main characters, it is more than a bit unrealistic. It errs too badly into the side of schmaltz.
But to add to the discussion at hand, I will say it's really the memories that count: it does not matter how good the hero was in bed on his first night of sex; what matters is how the two partners remember this experience. The same applies to deceased family members: it's their memory and the way that memory continues to affect us that is their lingering heritage.
Overall: A bit tacky, a bit funny, and overall not too bad. I give About Time 3 out of 5 crabs.

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