We’ve got exactly two months left in 2013, and as of right now, About Time wins my “Favorite Movie of the Year” award. That’s not the same thing as me claiming it’s the BEST movie of the year, mind you. It just happens to be my personal favorite. Chances are if you enjoyed writer/director Richard Curtis’ other rom-coms (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill), you’ll like this one, too.
About Time premiered in the UK in September, and I was on vacation in Scotland at the time. I am not exaggerating: every single bus in Edinburgh had the poster to the left plastered on it. I told my husband what the movie was about and he smirked. “Is Rachel McAdams only in time-travel movies now?” (See The Time Traveler’s Wife, Midnight in Paris.)
But here’s the thing: About Time is so not a Rachel McAdams movie. I feel like they’re marketing it completely wrong and it is STRESSING ME OUT. You take one look at that poster and you’re like, “Ugh, this has gotta be yet another cheesy rom-com about some chick who FINALLY finds Mr. Right and gets married. Been there, done that.” You would also probably think that the movie’s geared mostly toward women. All of this is just not the case.
So let me try to convince you why both men and women will like — if not love — About Time, and why I found it to be so moving. It’s about a guy named Tim (Domhnall Gleeson, who most Americans know only as Bill Weasley from the final Harry Potter movies) who learns at age 21 that all men in his family can time travel. His father (Bill Nighy, the best!) explains the rules to him: he can go backward to any point in his life and redo it and then will pop back to the present moment to see how things changed. There are other guidelines, too, which Tim learns from his dad as the years pass.
Let me say right now that the rules of time travel in this movie make zero sense. And I mean NO sense. There were huge, direct contradictions to the rules throughout the movie, but I chose to roll with it because this is totally not a sci-fi flick. While gaping holes like that would normally bug me to no end, the reason I decided to overlook them is because I so wholeheartedly believe in the film’s message: live every day to the fullest, and treat those around you like you would if you knew it might be your last day with them. Or in other words: “life is good,” “don’t sweat the small stuff,” “today is a gift — that’s why it’s call the present,” and every other Think Positive! t-shirt slogan you can think of.
So as any 21-year-old lad might do, Tim uses his unique power to try and win over various girls. He fails with some, but ultimately earns the affection of Mary (McAdams). But did they end up together because he was able to keep going back in time to tweak his responses, and, um, performances? Or were they just “meant” to be together? You’re left to decide that for yourself, because Tim’s wooing of Mary is quite a small part of the film overall.
The real story is about Tim learning that there are some things he can’t (or doesn’t need to) do over, and how he comes to terms with that fact. What made me love this movie so much is how Tim learns that he can’t help others unless they want to help themselves, and how he comes to realize that nobody is going to live forever no matter how much time traveling they do themselves (or are unknowingly affected by). There is a scene toward the end that, I swear to God, if you don’t at least shed a tear during, if not flat-out bawl your head off like I did, then you are most definitely a cyborg. This particular scene got to me so much that I broke down in my car two separate times while driving home. But the thing is that it was not a sad scene per se, it was just a touching and perfect one. And it’s the scene that made About Time my favorite movie of 2013 (so far).
If you end up seeing this one, I’d love to know what you thought, and if you were as affected as I was by That Scene or the movie’s themes and messages overall.