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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"About Time", Charming Sci-Fi Rom-Com

About Time

Who would have guessed? Me liking a Richard Curtis' film! Me being moved by the director who perpetrated the crimes against humanity that are "Love Actually" or "Notting Hill". But I can't lie: I enjoyed "About Time" a lot. And despite the flaws and the sugary fat tricks that surround the second half of the film, putting it on the verge of collapse, the final feeling is of genuine satisfaction.

This could have been a predictable rom-com with several, potentially worrying cliches (that England's fakey postcard, the lack of economic strife, the slightly dubious female roles, the syrupy soundtrack)... but somehow the shortcomings are forgettable and totally forgivable. Because "About Time" is a charmer.

The use of the time travel sci-fi (freaks don't get too excited, not that kind of movie) resource gives the film a new dimension, much refreshing at first, really funny at least for more than half of the movie (laughs are granted, and I mean laughing, not acting like an idiot pretending acting as if you were having fun, because everyone around you seems to do so, particularly girls, in front of a silly rom-com with Julia Roberts, Richard Gere or even more annoying, Hugh Grant), and by the time the movie shifts and gets more serious, and admittedly, things could get ruined by the tear-jerking excesses, you are too engaged and pleased with it.

And that engagement from the audience has to do with the plot, a lightweight digression, with hints of some somber thoughts on what does it means love and family, that mixes comedy and drama with balance, although the last half of the film clearly aims to reach (a bit too much probably) the viewer emotionally, it's full of remarkable scenes. Many are quite hilarious, as a the time travel device is used wisely by Curtis, who despite not being interested at all to offer an explanation, creates several memorable situations. And some others are undeniably loveable (the blind date, meaning that in a literal way).

And of course, it also has to do with the actors. Domnhall Gleeson is the perfect, uncharacteristically (because he is not what girls would call handsome) charismatic star of the movie, geeky, quirky, clumsy in what regards to sentimental issues and utterly recognisable (men's solidarity here). Rachel McAdams is adorable as Mary, even more because she has a type of job that I would die for and thought I could only see that on screen on a Woody Allen's film (no spoiler but it does allow the couple of having a very cute dining scene). And Bill Nighy, Tim's dad, is just the older version of Jarvis Cocker, so he rocks, as usual. The chemistry is terrific and makes every scene involving at least two of them memorable.

As I said before, not everything works. Kit Kat's subplot, the lunatic sister fragment, squeaks. Something that, to a extent, could be said, to every female character on the film. But I would say that's going too far. "About Time" is not aiming to be THAT deep or even bittersweet. This is not "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" or "Groundhog Day", but a genuinely pleasant movie that goes way further than your average rom-com, with lovable characters, lots of laughs and an enduring charm. What a great surprise. Now, Mr. Curtis, why don't you go back in time and forget about doing "Love Actually"? The world would be a much better place without it...

SCORE: 7,25/10

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