In About Time
, writer-director Richard Curtis—who scripted Four Weddings and a Funeral
and Notting Hill
—tells yet another tale of a British bloke besotted with an American woman in London. Now, though, there’s a time-travel hook. Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) and Mary (Rachel McAdams, returning to familiar ground after the high-concept Harlequin romance of The Time Traveler’s Wife
) are the destined-to-be-happy couple. The twist is that Tim can visit the past without the pesky problem of running into younger selves. At first this conceit allows for one-trick-pony jokes as Tim benefits from do-overs of amorous mishaps—like erasing his fumbling with Mary’s front-clasp bra during their first tryst. But the movie ultimately spirals outward from its romcom roots to encompass family, birth, death and, natch, the meaning of life. As ever, Curtis’ brand of cleverness remains in the realm of the cute while tiptoeing around darker territory, hinted at in Tim’s momentary temptation to cheat on Mary with a formative crush. If you could constantly revise the past, how would this affect your morality? Alas, About Time
doesn’t go down this enticing rabbit hole, remaining too committed to rutted sentimentality.