Twitter Plot Summary: When he discovers the male members of his family can time travel, Tim uses this power to get himself a girlfriend.
Director: Richard Curtis
Key Cast: Domhall Gleeson, Bill Nighy, Rachel McAdams, Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Tom Hollander.
Five Point Summary:
1. With great power comes great responsibility – thus, using time travel to get yourself a girlfriend is perfectly acceptable.
2. Fantastic – a final appearance of Richard Griffiths.
3. I’m not sure I understand the rules of time travel. I’m also not sure they’re important.
4. Montage! Even Rocky had a montage…
5. Saccharine and sentimental, but a worthy message to end the film on.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a huge fan of Richard Curtis’ movies, although I am a fan of his TV work – Blackadder, Mr Bean, French and Saunders… all classics. By comparison his cinematic career has hit the highs of Four Weddings and a Funeral/Bridget Jones to the lows of The Boat That Rocked. I don’t think his films will ever have universal appeal, but to that core market that have previously enjoyed the extensive collaborations between Curtis and Hugh Grant, they will get a lot from this. There may even be a certain portion of the science fiction crowd that might give this a go, although they may be put off by the aforementioned collaborations between Curtis and Hugh Grant. You can’t win them all.
Domhall Gleeson plays Tim who, upon turning 21, discovers that the men in his family have the ability to travel through time. The rules, such as they are, are relatively limited – you can only travel back to places you have been and no further back than your own timeline, and the repercussions of making changes are minimal. Tim decides to use this power to get himself a girlfriend. “Wow, massive” drolls Bill Nighy playing Bill Nighy as Tim’s Dad. There’s a certain disturbing element to this as Tim goes out of his way to ensure he ends up with Mary via time travel, to which she remains completely oblivious. If you think about it, that’s a bit creepy.
I was expecting the main focus to be on the relationship between Tim and Mary, and the first half does in fact do this. It’s in the second half of the film where the narrative focus changes and it becomes more about Tim’s family and his Dad in particular. After all, by this point in the story Tim and Mary are settled so without breaking them up arbitrarily the family aspect is the only place to take the story. Beyond the time travel link they also have that father/son bond that you rarely get to see played out in cinema. This is where the film truly succeeds and the relationship between father and son is spot on.
It’s not perfect and if you think too much about the time travel thing then you’ll be picking holes in the story for weeks. The best thing you can do is just go along with the concept and disengage your reasoning for a couple of hours. As a narrative device time travel allows us to partake in Tim’s wish fulfillment and to fantasise over “What If?” situations. Did you completely mess up that first date? Easy, just travel back and do it all again, knowing exactly what’s going to happen next. Best man at your wedding not as good as you were hoping? Just go back and try another one. Or another one. Or another… The message by the end is clear though – we don’t need time travel to live our lives how we want to, although on occasion it might be nice to have the option.
Favourite scene: *spoilers* Tim realizes his Dad is dying, but thanks to their ability to time travel they get to spend more time together than would normally be available.
Quote: “It’s going to be a complicated life.”
Silly Moment: The whole date in the dark idea. I’m sure there are bars/restaurants that do this, but it just seems silly.