After a particularly uneventful New Year’s Eve party some time after his 21st birthday, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is pulled aside by his father (Bill Nighy). His dad tells him that all the men in the family have the ability to travel through time. The caveat is that they can only travel to the past, nothing in the future, and only to specific events where they were present. In short, they can revisit memories they had and start again from that moment. Tim is understandably skeptical. He decides to give it a go. Much to his surprise, it works.
As Tim goes through life, he uses his new-found ability to make better choices and/or help others. He is a nice guy, after all. While the men in the family have yet to see the “butterfly effect” which could possibly destroy the future, there are specific consequences to each action. Subtle reactions that only seem to impact their lives.
Tim’s main goal for his power is to find love. Not that you can travel in time and make someone fall in love with you. But it does let you act more appropriately for each situation or perfect your timing.
During a night out with his friend, Jay (Will Merrick), Tim meets Mary (Rachel McAdams). The two click instantly. There could definitely be a future here. However, Harry (Tom Hollander), a playwright friend of his father, has a less than spectacular opening of his play. Tim decides to go back in time and help Tim. Of course, the play’s opening is during the time he met Mary. Tim must find another way to get to know Mary, if he is going to find love.
Domhnall Gleeson was a perfect choice for this role. For starters, he could easily pass as Bill Nighy’s son. Also, the men chosen to have this extraordinary ability are not your typical ladies’ man type actors who don’t deserve these do-over powers. He is lonely, awkward, and good-hearted. He isn’t looking strictly for personal gain. He helps Harry. He helps his goofy sister Kit Kat, played by Lydia Wilson. Rachel McAdams was also a good choice to play Tim’s love interest. She’s cute, but not so hot as to be completely out of his league. Thankfully, this is one of her less annoying roles. Overall, the cast works and plays well together.
The movie doesn’t have any of the issues of time-travel paradoxes that so many films have. How is that, you ask? By outright saying, “Oh yeah, we don’t worry about any of those problems. They don’t happen that we know of.” It’s a bit of a cop-out, yes, but it lets you focus on the story itself without having to think about all the potential pitfalls of changing history. It’s a bit convenient, but it works. There are, however, some milestones that, if crossed, impact the future in ways that cannot be easily undone. So, they do kind of keep a bit of plausibility to the film, if that’s possible.
About Time has a very distinct Groundhog Day feel to it at times. The main character uses his extra time to relive situations, trying to make them better, or just get the best out of life. (In the case of Groundhog Day, this took some time.) The film is all about living each day and really experiencing it. It has some touching moments, even if it did feel a bit sterile over all. I kept waiting for certain things to happen, but they never did. I guess it’s just my jaded outlook when it comes to what to expect from movies these days.
It’s a feel-good film that may just make you take a look at how you are living your life.