I heard a lot of critics sniff at the inclusion of Richard Curtis' About Time in this year's New York Film Festival. The same cadre, no doubt, uses Curtis' Love, Actually as an example of what's wrong with romantic comedy.
I'd like to demur. I happen to think that Curtis is one of the few movie-comedy practitioners working today who can infuse his work with deep feeling, to contemplate the larger questions from a micro level, finding humor in humanity, as well as pathos.
About Time is only Curtis' third film as a director, though he has written a number more. His brightly spiced version of the romantic comedy -- from Four Weddings and a Funeral through Love, Actually and the Bridget Jones movies -- established him as a writer capable of finding surprising laughs, even while working the heartstrings with bravado.
Curtis isn't afraid of letting a touching moment be touching, but also knows when to leaven it with a bit of the ridiculous. With About Time, he stretches his storytelling in surprising directions, without ever losing sight of what he's really on about.
His film focuses on Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), scion of a family with a large house and property in Cornwall. Tim is a young lawyer just starting out in London and desperately short of the kind of game he needs to actually attract the women he's interested in.
Then his father James (the invaluable Bill Nighy) tells him a secret: All the men in the family have the ability to time-travel. Not into the future, but into their own pasts. Tim eventually figures out how to use this power to find the one thing he has always lacked: a girlfriend.
This review continues on my website.