3 Stars – INSIGHTFUL
What if you could do something over if it didn’t go the way you wanted? Would that fix everything or would you only find new frustrations? Is happiness a result of everything going perfectly or in learning how to engage life fully whatever happens? And if love is what makes life meaningful, how do you find love? Does it come because life plays out as we want it to or because we grow together through the good and the bad? These questions are among those explored in a delightful film written and directed by Richard Curtis titled About Time. An experienced writer known for such acclaimed films as War Horse, Pirate Radio, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’ Diary and Love Actually, this is only his third film as director.
This fictional tale is told in autobiographical style by the central character Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson). Set in Cornwall and London, Tim is informed by his father (Bill Nighy) on his twenty-first birthday that the men of his family have the unique ability to travel back in time along their own life-line. This profound ability is limited to only live the events of their own life over again and has not been as much of a blessing as it may at first seem to be. Some of Tim’s ancestors used this ability to become wealthy while others used it to simply retire early and read, repeating days as needed so that the memory of each day is not lost. In the case of Tim’s Uncle D (Richard Cordery), it is clear that he has overwhelmed his brain and cannot keep the simplest facts of his relationships clear.
A young man who has not been successful in love, Tim decides to use his family’s ability to find love. The tale thus becomes an engaging love story as we travel with Tim back and forth in his attempt to find the love of his life. Though we won’t spoil the journey, the central characters include the beautiful Charlotte (Margot Robbie) and Mary (Rachel McAdams). Also a part of this journey is Tim’s carefree and careless sister Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson) and his friends Rory (Joshua McGuire), Harry (Tom Hollander) and Jay (Will Merrick).
The overarching message of the film is one that rings true. Life is to be lived fully each day and joy is found not in perfection but in embracing love, marriage, family and children. This film affirms the truth that since we are created by a God of love, we find fulfillment in love and it is living in love that brings true joy. This is a heart-warming tale we recommend to all adults.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. The relentless flow of time is a reality of our temporal existence. Do you find this a blessing or a curse? Why do you answer as you do?
2. In the various experiences of your life, in what do you find the greatest joy? Would you agree that experiencing love, marriage, family and children are key to living a meaningful life? Why or why not?
3. Spoiler alert: When Tim decides to have a third child and say a permanent goodbye to his father, he was deciding on living with the uncertainty of the future rather than continuing to have the comfort of the past. Would you have made the same decision? Why or why not?