About Time: A Ravishing RomCom
by Harrison Warwick
That’s “ravish” as in “rape,” lest you think I was enthralled by a film that came and went from theatres so quietly last autumn. Now I see why.
Despite a winning lead performance by Domhnall Gleeson, “About Time,” written and directed by Richard Curtis, is rather half-baked (especially the second half). Perhaps it should’ve been a telly series instead.
With Gleeson coming off as rather meek in the first reeI, I was expecting a Michael Cera type of character. But all his friends are such twits, he’s more the ladies man of the bunch. Rachel McAdams is luminous as always, probably too luminous for what the part calls for. The hair department tries to hit her with an ugly stick, but she’s still Rachel McAdams.
What the film does best is the absence of looooooooooong exposition. It utilizes a sleeker version of the “Somewhere in Time” mode of time travel. It skips the salad bar, and goes straight to the meat. Margot Robbie has an extended cameo as eye candy. But Curtis uses a clever way of (mild spoiler) making the unattainable woman remain unattainable even for a time traveller. Gleeson’s sister, played by Lydia Wilson, is underdeveloped, so her subplot toward the end feels like a deus ex machina.
Essentially, “About Time” is “Groundhog Day” without the sarcasm. But it navigates through choppy waters. Is McAdams a consenting adult? Is she sexually violated by a time-travelling ginger? Are her thoughts her own or does he corrupt them? There’s no doubt that Gleeson subconsciously influences her to sleep with him (not a spoiler because it’s in the adverts). “Groundhog Day” doesn’t feel this way, probably because the sardonic Bill Murray prevents it from drowning in a maudlin morass. “About Time” doesn’t have that film’s irony and the protagonist is a sincere guy from act one. It treads an uneasy tightrope over that sentimentalism. If memory serves (and it usually doesn’t), Murray never has sexual congress with Andie McDowell in “Groundhog Day.” He spends years trying to impress her, while in this film Gleeson facilely steals a single line from McAdams’ brain to impress her and that’s enough for the tart to shed her clothes. Not, as you yanks say, that there’s anything wrong with that.
2 cups of Darjeeling out of 4