Gleeson, McAdams keep ‘About Time’ on schedule

Gleeson, McAdams keep ‘About Time’ on schedule

By Karsten Burgstahler


Romantic drama aficionados will probably have some déjà vu while viewing Richard Curtis’ first film in four years and first romantic piece in nearly a decade, “About Time” (Rated R; 123 Min.).

In fact, Rachel McAdams plays almost exactly the same character she played in 2009’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” The only difference here is she does not know about her husband’s abilities, and this movie does not have quite as tragic an ending. But that does not mean your eyes will be dry at the end.


“About Time” concerns Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), an average twenty-something who discovers the men in his family can travel back in time. The rules are set up early on, the most restrictive of which; he can only travel to places he has been or can imagine after having them described to him by someone who was there. The movie plays pretty fast and loose with this MacGuffin, but honestly any movie involving time travel is going to get sticky in the details.

Tim decides he will use this ability for love, and after unsuccessfully trying to woo a summer crush (Margot Robbie) he finally finds Mary (McAdams), whom he instantly falls in love with. At first Tim uses his ability for more comical purposes, like to get his and Mary’s first time just right. But as the film moves forward, Tim begins to try to control the problems in his life. Eventually he learns he has to choose between two realities, neither of which is a total victory for him.

Gleeson and McAdams fit well together and have pretty good chemistry. The romance will not knock you off your feet, but the two make the otherwise stale wish-fulfillment plot devices seem fresh. It would be nice if Mary had been given something to do rather than be the dutiful wife. However, most of the time when we see her, she is simply taking care of the kids or tending to Tim. There is no character development for McAdams to play with. Her character in “The Time Traveler’s Wife” was much more interesting because she was conflicted about her husband’s disposition. Here she is a bystander.

The more interesting relationship comes from Tim and his father (Bill Nighy), never given a name beyond “Dad,” or his sister Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson). Curtis makes the smart move of keeping the romance one facet of “About Time,” rather than letting it dominate the picture, and letting the trials of Tim’s family play out. At several points Tim is forced to choose between memories of his family and his life with Mary. The results are heartbreaking, but never overpowering. The movie does not descend into soupy melodrama.

“About Time” certainly will not rank up there with the best of the romance genre. It is no “Silver Linings Playbook.” And it really does not have anything new to offer up to audiences. Look at it as romantic comfort food — no one is trying to rattle the cage, they are simply offering up a different take on a well-traversed road. It is the cast and the better-than-average writing that makes this movie a lot better than it deserves to be. For those looking for something to warm up a cold weekend night in November, that may very well be enough.

Karsten Burgstahler can be reached at [email protected] 

or 536-3311 ext. 261.