About Time

00:00 November 07, 2013
By: Fritz Esker
[Courtesy of Universal Pictures]

*** out of ****

Writer Richard Curtis has made a career out of making skillfully crafted sentimental entertainments (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually).All three of those films veer into mawkishness at times, but they feature real affection for their characters and enough moments of genuine laughter and emotion to make it go down easy.About Time fits this mold perfectly.

Domnhall Gleeson plays a young man who is told by his father (the excellent Bill Nighy) on his 21st birthday that the men in his family have the ability to travel back in time.They can't change historical events; they can only make tweaks to their own lives.

At first, the film resembles Groundhog Day, with Gleeson working to win the love of his dream girl (Rachel McAdams) and make minor corrections in the lives of people he cares about.But as the film progresses, it takes on a more melancholy tone as Gleeson realizes there are some things he can't fix despite his ability.

The performers are all charming.Gleeson has a good romantic chemistry with McAdams, but the emotional core of the film is actually the relationship between Gleeson and Nighy.Their father/son dynamic is as affecting as anything Curtis has created.Like all time travel movies, it doesn't always make logical sense, but it remains coherent.

About Time is schmaltz, but it's enjoyable, effective schmaltz.

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