Why I Love About Time AKA Why I Love My Father
"I just try to live every day as if I've deliberately come back to this one day to enjoy it as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary life."
About Time, released in 2013 and written and directed by Richard Curtis, is a beautiful bit of movie making. Curtis, who you will know from classic comedies like Blackadder and gorgeous comedy dramas like The Boat That Rocked, is someone who knows how to combine big laughs with moments that will just about make you cry. About Time is one such movie. About Time is a film about a man who discovers that he has the ability to travel back in time. Through using this ability he sets his life on the right track, as well as helping those closest to him get the lives they deserve. As you will know, I lost my father about eight months ago, and as much as I adored the love story between Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams, I hold this movie close to my heart for what it says about fathers and sons. Bill Nighy's advice to his son and the final moments they spend together before Nighy's character dies, make me cry. A lot. A whole lot. I will try to explain why.
About Time is a time travel movie in the same way as Back To The Future was. Time travel is not the central thing, but a way for the characters to re-evaluate their life choices and try to make amends to those whom they love. It is also used for great comic effect. We all wish that we had another go around to make good on our potential and those chances we didn't take. About Time does a really good job at exploring what we would do if we had infinite re-tries of a situation, raising just as many chuckles as Back To The Future did decades earlier. Tim, played by Domhnall Gleeson is a very appealing lead and his chemistry with Rachel McAdams' character Mary is electric. You really believe that they love each other. McAdams is gorgeous in the role, and soared to the top of my favourite actors when I saw her in this. Gleeson proves himself here, as he did in the sublime Brooklyn and Black Mirror, that he is sticking around for keeps. He has such a touch for the material and makes the viewer feel like they are inhabiting him.
About Time is a story about love. Romantic love and familial love. It is a story about making the most of the time you have and not being afraid to fail. Get back up and try again. There are many charming moments in the film. I particularly like the scenes with Tim's Dad's friend Harry, who is a writer. Harry, played by Tom Hollander, is a sarcastic fuck, but also someone who has a heart buried under the crushing reality of a writer trying to write. The scene where Tim and Mary meet is charming, as is the scene where Tim tries to track her down at a museum, waiting all day until he catches her eye.
Some people were very snarky about this film, getting irate at the plot holes and the inconsistency of the time travel rules. These people are entirely missing the fucking point. This is a dream; a realization of long held fantasies. The rules of time travel have absolutely no bearing on whether this movie succeeds or not. It does succeed because it is a movie of colossal heart, and it amuses and charms through its entire running time. Richard Curtis is someone who has faced a lot of unjustified criticism from cynical assholes, and the fact that About Time his best work, and thus comfortably on a list of best work by anyone is lost on them. It's a shame because this is precisely the kind of antidote for cynical bullshit.
When I lost my father earlier this year, I thought I would never see him again. Then he came to me in my dreams. I don't really believe that it was him, but when I talked to him, it made me feel like it was. Noel was a Garda Sergeant, who did a lot of good work in his life, including putting many people in prison for terrible crimes. He always stood up to bullies and taught me how to do the same. I lived with Noel in Den Haag for about a year and a half, though not all in one go. He was the Garda Liaison Officer and was responsible for taking care of the many Irish criminals who populated The Netherlands and surrounding regions. Noel was incredibly good at his job and gained the respect of everyone he worked with. Noel was a wonderful father. Not to say that he didn't have flaws - he did. We worked through the issues between us and I can say today that we were the best of friends. When I think of what a man should be, I think of Noel. He always stood by me and helped me out of countless bad situations.
About Time is about the love between a father and son, and the love that is created when a new family is started. The final scenes between father and son, where they share one last time together, holding hands on walking by the sea, are incredibly powerful. The film moved me when I saw it in 2013, but when I watched it after Noel died, I was an emotional wreck. I cried the most I have ever cried at a piece of created work. It made me remember a time when me and Noel, after coming home from New York when I was twelve, fell asleep on the sofa holding hands. About Time brings to mind so many memories, and I thank Richard Curtis and the great cast and crew for bringing such happy times flooding back. This is not a movie for cynical people. It is for open-hearted souls. A truly lovely movie that will bring big laughs and big tears in equal measure.