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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Directed by Richard Curtis
Universal Pictures 11/13 Feature Film
R – language, some sexual content
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) lives at home in Cornwall with his father (Bill Nighy), a retired professor; his mother (Lindsay Duncan) who loves to putter around in the garden; his younger sister Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson); and Uncle D (Richard Cordery) who has trouble remembering things. On his 21st birthday, his dad tells him that all the men in the family have inherited a capacity to time travel: to revisit moments in the past and change the mistakes they have made. Tim, a lonely person who hasn't had much success in relationships with women, heads off to start his career in London as a lawyer. He takes a room in the home of Harry (Tom Hollander), a distant relative who is a playwright and a very cynical person.
Tim gets a chance to time travel after he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), a publisher's reader from the United States. He revisits the past in order to steal her away from another boyfriend and to prove himself as a great lover when they have sex. He follows his father's orders to keep his unusual gift a secret even from Mary who accepts his proposal of marriage. Tim has a "good heart," as his dad tells those who will listen, and takes trips to the past to help out Harry, to put Kit Kat's confused and self-destructive life in turnaround, and to express his deep gratitude to his father.
Richard Curtis has had a long career as a writer and is responsible for the screenplays of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and War Horse. His first film as a director was Pirate Radio; this is the second one he has written and directed. This combination romantic comedy and time-travel movie contains some very funny lines and scenes. Curtis wants us to see Tim's trips to the past as a ticket to a spiritual appreciation of the present moment where all of us are graced with a chance to marvel at the abundant wonders of everyday life, such as playing table tennis, performing a kindness for a flustered friend, and not getting bent out of shape by a torrential downpour on your wedding day.
Gleeson and McAdams come across on the screen as a contented couple, and Gleeson and Nighy convincingly convey the love and high-regard that lies behind the touching relationship between Tim and his father. It has been a long time since we have seen such a positive father and son portrait in a feature film.
Screened at The 51st New York Film Festival, October 2013.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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