4.5/5 stars

Who doesn’t like to indulge in the occasional British rom-com, boy-meets-girl, time travel movie every now or then? In his newest film About Time, romantic-comedy warhorse Richard Curtis, the mastermind behind Love Actually and Notting Hill,once again amazes audiences with his awkwardly quixotic, Anglo-American love story topped with witty British humor, family quirkiness, a syrupy score and themes of love, sacrifice and making your life the way you want it to be.

About Time is narrated by Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson), a geeky, charmingly clumsy young man beleaguered with romantic struggles. After a New Year’s party gone wrong, Tim visits his buddy-buddy, bookish father (Bill Nighy) in his study and discovers that the men of his family have the ability to travel in time. Thinking his dad is playing a prank, a perplexed Tim hesitantly tries out his newfound talent and fulfills his midnight kiss goal with the girl from the previous night’s party. His time-travellingdad offers some fatherly life advice and inspires his son to discover passion. And the once-hapless Tim decides that “for him, it was always going to be about love.”

Eager to find love, Tim trudges out to the West London milieu to live with his father’s dodgy old acquaintance Harry (Tom Hollander), a struggling playwright. On a night out, Tim finds himself in whimsical, intimate first date with Mary (Rachel McAdams), an American girl he meets at a blind-dating restaurant. The date goes extremely well and he falls head-over-heels for her. Conflict arises when Tim finds it difficult to choose whether the dilemmas of his heart or the dilemmas of others are of more importance to him.

Avoiding the butterfly effect and time paradoxes, Curtis uses time travel as a theatrical storytelling device to depict how we might do things differently if given the chance to rewrite a past wrong or relive a memorable moment. Like Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, this film is less about the how of time travel, but rather about what to do with the power. At the film’s heart is Tim’s chase to win Mary’s heart, as he realizes that not even time travel can allow you to fix everything or have everything you want.

About Time is not a rehashing of Curtis’ past romantic comedies, but more a continuation of his enriching philosophy of love and what it truly encapsulates. The film’s thematic styling will stick with you long after you leave the theater. Although the film suffers from directorial shortcomings and a few meandering plot points, Curtis’ matchless screenwriting makes the film into so much more than the cliche, sappy rom-com it could have been. It broadly touches on the notion of searching for the right love and, consequentially, what must be given up to achieve the wonderful, total agony of being in love. Bring a couple tissues because despite its flow of gawky sexual innuendos and amusing British curses, the film ends with tear-jerking sentimentality and prudent life lessons.

Alluringly charismatic, About Time is beautifully crafted and its funny, uplifting story will make you chuckle at the awkwardness of first dates or the embarrassments of familial idiosyncrasies, while still inspiring you to embrace each moment of your “extraordinary ordinary life.”

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