“About Time” is a candid look at the life of an Englishman who has inherited the ability to travel back in time. This trait is passed down through the men in his family — a fact he learns from his father on his twenty-first birthday. Jim Lake, seemingly normal, must decide how to use this newfound capability to alter his world for the better. Naturally, he sets upon finding a girlfriend. After a few failed attempts at love, Jim moves to London from his family home in Cornwall. He begins law school and rooms with an old playwright friend of his father’s. Not long after Jim meets Mary and makes plans to take her out on a date. Unfortunately, Jim uses his skill to rescue his roommate’s failed play premier, in the process erasing his first meeting with Mary. The movie continues from Jim’s perspective, wittily and heroically blundering through weddings, family parties, and the fair amount of tragedy reserved for romantic comedies.
This film was written and directed by Richard Curtis, whom British romantic comedy fans will remember from “Love Actually,” “Notting Hill,” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” “About Time” is most definitely sprinkled with the same charm and romantic spirit found in these other works. The soundtrack for “About Time” features appearances from popular artists, including Ben Folds and Amy Winehouse. There also happens to be a cover of an original Ellie Goulding song, “How Long Will I Love You.” Performed rather poetically in a tube station by folk musicians Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney, and Ben Coleman, this song anchors a transition in the relationship between Jim and Mary.
Another strong relationship developed in the film is that of father and son, between Jim and his dad. Jim has fond memories of his childhood involving his dad, but the two of them become even closer after Jim is enlightened with the family secret. As time goes on, Jim uses time travel to spend more time with his father, often seeking advice for the future. Jim and his dad’s favorite game is ping-pong, which they play until one day the dad finally wins a game against Jim. Jim relies upon his father, and as they both grow older, the men come to realize that the time they have to spend together is lessening, even with the ability to travel back in time.
Near the end of the movie, Jim comes to the realization that life can be lived and appreciated with the same vigor and intention the first time, as it would be for him to relive and alter it the second time. He begins to see the value in a first impression and to recognize the preciousness and integrity of life.
This sensitive romantic comedy is a must-see due to its originality and uniqueness from the typical romantic comedy movie script. It has ups and downs emotionally, but in the end everything goes according to plan. It is an excellent reflection on life — the happiness and the heartache — in a completely relatable and believable way that breaks from the traditional syntax of movies in which the lovers only get together after a dramatic climax. This feel-good film should definitely be on every holiday movie list this year!