Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachael McAdams, Bill Nighy, Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Richard Cordery, Joshua McGuire, Tom Hollander, Margot Robbie, Will Merrick, Vanessa Kirby, Tom Hughes.
Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) and his eccentric family have always lived in a house by the seaside where they have tea on the beach, rain or shine, and enjoy each other’s company.
He’s home for a New Year’s Eve party where he hopes to at least snatch a kiss from a pretty girl at midnight. Since his luck with women is stupendously bad, he fails.
The next day his father (Bill Nighy) calls him in to his study to tell him a family secret — after each man’s 21st birthday, the men in his family can time travel. It requires no more than a quiet place, hands formed into fists and an idea where he wants to go. He can go anywhere in the past, do anything within reason, with few consequences.
Tim immediately tries it out and discovers he really can move back in time. He can’t tell anyone, but he can try to smooth things over he’s messed up before, take another chance with a girl he liked.
When he moves to London to study law, he meets his perfect girl in a pitch black restaurant where he can’t see her until they emerge. The spark is mutual, and only an emergency that requires him to take a quick trip back in time keeps him from continuing the relationship right then.
When he tries to return to the restaurant in time to meet her again, he can’t find her.
Taking everything he learned about her, he plots to run into her somewhere else and go from there. He has to repeat this a few times until he does catch Mary (Rachel McAdams), an American living in London.
He uses his time traveling talent to perfect their sex life and to pull off a massively romantic proposal.
They marry, his career progresses and they start a family. It’s here he finds the one real rule.
After the birth of his oldest child, he does a bit of time travel and comes home to discover he has a different child than the one he left.
His father explains the glitch and this once, Tim is able to fix it and life gets pretty good for them until the biggest shock of all comes and there is nothing Tim can do to change it.
This is how time travel should, and probably would be done. Repeating things until you get them exactly right is irresistible and it takes a man of a certain moral fiber not to abuse it.
Tim is tempted to use his power once or twice to revisit women from his past, and his thought processes are interesting.
Nighy’s easy charm is a perfect contrast to Tim’s uncertainty and as time goes on, father and son discover things about each other that are both wrenching and surprising.
McAdams shines as the sweet and sassy Mary and it’s easy to see why Tim makes many of the decisions he does to keep her.
Writer and director Richard Curtis specializes in romances that show the many sides of love (“Four Weddings and a Funeral, “Notting Hill” and “Love Actually”), and “About Time” is his best yet.
It’s a great movie for the holidays and an even better date movie. You’ll fall for Tim and Mary, their family and friends and by the end of the movie, you’ll wish you could time travel a bit yourself.