Last Tuesday I had a day off and after running a few errands in town I ended up browsing the “New Releases” blu-ray shelf at the local MediaMarkt (which is kind of a mix of HMV and Currys/Dixons). Not only did I find “The Day of the Doctor” there (and an unabridged version for a change as well, usually all the BBC productions are missing a few minutes on their German releases), but also discovered that the newest film written by Richard Curtis (of “Love Actually” and “Notting Hill” fame) had finally been released after it had completely escaped my notice when it was in cinemas last year.
The film is called “About Time” and it’s about… well, time. Or time travel, to be exact. It tells the story of Tim Lake (played by Domhnall Gleeson), who, at the age of 21, is being told by his father (Bill Nighy) that all men in their family have the ability to travel in time. They can’t change history in the grand scheme of things but they can change what happened in their own past or simply relive their favourite moments again and again. Mind you, the whole concept of this seems a bit “dumbed-down” for someone who watches things like “Doctor Who” practically on a daily basis, because somehow Tim and his father never meet their past selves on these trips back in time and therefore actually changing things is much more easily and smoothly done than you’d expect. It’s still great fun to watch Tim embark on his mission to finally get a girlfriend, because that is what he decides to use his special power for (after being told that his other idea, trying to get his hands on as much money as possible, has basically ruined one of his uncles).
After moving from his Cornwall home to London to train as a lawyer (and to be house-mates with an eternally grumpy friend of the family, brilliantly portrayed by Tom Hollander) he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), a lovely, quirky American girl and they fall in love. However, various situations require him to attempt do-overs through trips back in time and these have consequences on his present life. The entire time you’re expecting him to mess up his relationship with Mary and for things to end badly (only to be fixed in the last third of the film, of course, this IS being marketed as a rom-com, after all). However, unlike “Notting Hill” and “Love Actually”, this isn’t a film about things going wrong and having to be fixed (though in a way it is, of course, because that’s basically all Tim ever does through his trips back in time, just not in the sense that our hero and heroine are torn apart and have to be re-united in the end). It is a film about being happy with the people you love and care about and about spending the time you have on this planet wisely, even if you should be in the rather unique position of being able to travel in time and change things. Of course there still IS a rather big thing (or two) going wrong in this film, because we all know a good story needs conflict, an obstacle, something that can’t be fixed or overcome, no matter what super-power you might possess. I won’t tell you what it is because I don’t want to spoil things for you, so I’ll just say this: I never knew a film about a family just being genuinely happy could be this moving and inspiring and just so GOOD. If this one doesn’t become an instant favourite with you, I don’t know what will. Go and watch this, now!! And if you still need encouragement, here’s the trailer: