The Movie: 6.5/10
Everyone has an idea of what romance is, not many make the effort to be creative, truly creative outside the corporate brainwashing of what romance is. Director Richard Curtis has some very specific views of the subject which put me sitting unstable on a very high fence between being in love with his romantic ideas, and finding them almost intolerably sappy and occasionally uncomfortable.
First, these words I’m about to type will include information about this movie that might spoil the surprise that is tucked into About Time. If you don’t care about such things, continue reading. If you want to watch the movie without any information (the way I did, my favorite way) stop reading, go watch it, and come immediately back here to see what I have to say. I won’t be telling you to see, or not to see the movie anyway, so you won’t be missing out on any guidance by skipping the review and actually watching the damn thing.
OK, on with it.
I’ll get right to it, spoiler included, the downer part of the review. The very man-centric concept of a young dude able to go back in time using that ability to manipulate a young woman into bed, into a relationship, and ultimately into a marriage is kind of creepy. You might not see it that way, which confirms your Y chromosome. If any women find this romantic, they’ve been hoodwinked. It is wrapped in a cute and sweet package with a fun cast, charming and lovely to be sure, and yet he has a distinct advantage over her because he can GO BACK IN TIME. He can go back to say the right thing, do the right thing, and not risk her making a clear and true decision to not be with him. He basically cheats his way into her heart. She’s sweet and unassuming, not my favorite attributes in a character, but she is never aware of this manipulation so finds happiness with a hoodwinker of sorts. Yes, he’s wonderful and loving and is a good daddy and amazing husband, so she got something fine out of the deal, but would she have a different life if he hadn’t forced his way into hers?
All this sounds grim and gritty and almost bleak, creepy, or dark, but it’s Richard Curtis’s universe remember, never a dark moment really. He’s fluffy and sweet and makes things so sappy sometimes it’s hard to take. I do like the movie. Shocked? I know, I’m conflicted. It’s a lovely well made film with an excellent cast, if not a bit overly pretentious about being “Cool not to be cool” with stripy pajamas and severe fringes with frocks…see the movie and you will understand. It’s a fantasy of what a young man might want to happen in his life, a decent non-horrible young man, let’s be straight about this. If this power were given to anyone else it could be super dark and grim and ugly, but we get the smiling niceness of our leading man, so it’s a good thing.
There are moments of pure romantic comedy, and moments of sadness related to real life coping with illness and death. So, it’s not all butterflies and romance. The real life stuff, the hard to deal with moments, are handled well. I cried. Even if there is a sappy element added to the characters’ ability or lack of ability to deal with death it’s excusable because I get it, life is hard sometimes and you have to hang on to the good stuff, the small moments, the wonderful life affirming people and smiles and kisses and days of happiness…I get it, I just don’t live in the fluffy world of denial and “love conquers all”.
If you are not cynical at all you might just fall for this movie hook, line and hoodwinker. If you are cynical you might be like me and are able to see past the obvious eye rolling moments and enjoy the niceness of love, which ain’t a bad thing.
- Deleted Scenes With Intros By Director Richard Curtis – Fifteen minutes of deleted scenes, most are throwaway but the Abbey Road scene is reason enough to watch.
- Blooper Reel: Making Movies Is A Serious Business – Probably the shortest blooper reel ever, most of the two minute running time is taken up by Curtis saying you are about to watch a blooper reel.
- Ellie Goulding “How Long Will I Love You?” Music Video – I love Goulding’s version of this song, but weirdly it’s not actually included in the movie. Not sure if this was changed for the US release for some reason, but at least you can listen to it here.
- About Tim & Time Travel – Curtis discusses the origin of this time travel story, like most of the featurettes here it’s good but only scratches the surface and leaves you feeling like you want more.
- The Look, Style & Locations – An eight minute look at the locations and costumes used on the shoot. This is a little more detailed than the other featurettes and you get a lot of Richard Curtis in interview.
- The World Of Richard Curtis – People who have worked with Curtis tell us how awesome he is. This last’s three minutes and pretty much should be filed under asskissary.
- Audio Commentary With Richard Curtis, Domhall Gleeson, Bill Nighy, Vannesa Kirby, Lydia Wilson and Tom Hollander – A very meaty commentary that makes up for the lackluster featurettes that are on the disc. The only problem is the absence of the leading lady otherwise this is a treat for Curtis fans.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 7/10
I don’t usually like the images they decide to slap on the covers of romantic type movies. They are either boring or too sappy. About Time is kind of sappy, but not boring, so that’s a pass. It does look more like a Romantic Comedy with a raucous vibe than it actually does. Don’t be mislead.
The menu is just navigation, so don’t get your hopes up.
Audio & Video: 8/10
Universal’s 1080P AVC encode for About Time is as rich and lovely as it gets. The movie uses a yellowish tinge that gives it a really warm feeling that fits with the romantic nature of the plot. The transfer has no issues that I noticed aside from a few overblown shots which are the fault of the director of photography not the disc. If you saw the film theatrically you will not be disappointed with its migration to the smaller screen.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is superb, obviously this is a romantic comedy so the only real showcase parts are when music is used. But it’s the dialog that makes this standout, its rich centered and sometimes runs riot around the rear of the room when it needs to. It’s a very good example of a modern sound-mix that impresses in its subtlety.
Overall Score 6/10