Movies

About Time: Learning How To Cultivate Our Time from the Ordinary Time Traveler

Pros

  • Intriguing, unique time travel story
  • Sweet father-son relationship
  • Honest, beautiful message about time itself
  • Cute and realistic romance
  • Beautiful scenery
  • References to Dickens

Cons

  • I couldn’t think of any

Note: About Time is rated R and contains swearing and sexual content/partial nudity.

On the day after Valentine’s Day, I figured I’d write about a love story that I watched recently, but not necessarily a traditional romance. It could be called a love story between a man and Charles Dickens novels, and I’m only exaggerating a little bit.

Have you ever wanted to time travel? I wish for time travel several times a week. I wish I could go back and undo some moments and particularly the socially awkward moments. I’m not sure I would undo anything major, after all, I wouldn’t want to mess with the space-time continuum or anything. Stories like this always seem to contain a major error on someone’s part.

Out of all the time travel stories I’ve heard, they usually consist of a character who messes up and undoes everything because time travel is bad. Time travel once and you will mess up the entire universe. Saving your friend from an early death will wage war with Russia. Blowing on one extra dandelion turns the world on its head. We get it, we get it, it’s a huge risk. You can’t undo that time you told the waiter to enjoy their meal too, or the time you slipped on ice and bruised your knee.

I’m currently undecided whether or not I agree that small events can change the world in such big ways–such a decision might require me to read more time-travel stores–but it is nice to see a story that isn’t so dramatic. About Time, compared to Stephen King’s 1776 for example, was a refreshing and beautiful story of a young man who learns he can travel back in time. This movie wasn’t exactly what I expected in a good way, and I was pleasantly surprised with this one.

About Time begins with the protagonist, twenty-one-year-old Tim (Domnhall Gleeson), who is awkwardly hanging out at his family’s New Year’s Eve party. Like all awkward introverted people, this party isn’t as romantic as he hopes–he fails to kiss a girl at midnight and bumps her head while everyone else seals a smooch with someone. Sounds painful for a few reasons. Luckily for Tim, he doesn’t have to live with that moment ingrained in his mind forever.

That’s right. We’re about to time travel. The next day, Tim’s father (Bill Nighy) tells him that all the men in his family have the ability to travel back–but not forward–in time. He has no idea why they can do this, but he does know that this is amazing. To time travel, all Tim has to do is stand in a dark room and make two fists. He doesn’t have to worry about being stuck in the past either; Tim can also easily travel back to real time afterward by doing the same thing.

So, what do all these men do with time travel? Well, his father says that he reads every single book he can. He is a huge Dickens fan and he reads and rereads Charles Dickens novels during his free time. Not a bad way to spend your time. I just want to say that I love his father. Having all the time in the world to read and reread books sounds like a dream; it is a pretty harmless way to use time travel yet it is brilliant. His father also has an impressive bookshelf, and he’s just a cool dude overall. I’m not sure if he is a professor or anything–but if he was, that skill would be super useful.

There are so many possibilities and I wonder if Tim even realizes how much potential time travel has for like simple stuff. He could spend the day relaxing and then go back in time and work all day. We learn later that Tim becomes a lawyer. Time Travel would be fantastic help while studying law law school. He could practically memorize all the laws and wouldn’t even miss any time studying. He could spend infinite hours growing familiarity with the material. In real time, he could hang out with friends at a pub or something. We don’t hear anything about Tim’s time in law school, but showing this could be pretty cool. I wouldn’t say it is a missed opportunity though given Tim’s goals and the story’s message. When he hears about time travel, Tim is super excited and a little overwhelmed, and he asks for his dad’s advice.

Tim’s father tells him that he should use his powers to do what he finds most important. And what Tim wants most of all is to meet the woman of his dreams and fall in love. This takes about five seconds, well, actually it happens more like six months later. We go through a time jump.

When his sister’s friend Charlotte (Margot Robbie) comes to stay with his family for two months of the summer, Tim instantly falls for her. He is too shy to reveal his feelings until the last day. She tells him that he should have said something earlier. Of course, he realizes that he doesn’t have to miss his chance. Tim can go back in time, do things right, have a great summer romance–if Charlotte has feelings for him too. Of course, life doesn’t always work out how we like.

Tim leaves the roaring hills and outdoors for the city. He wants to go into corporate life, he becomes a lawyer, and he lives with a family friend who wants to be an actor. He also meets another girl, Mary. Tim really likes Mary and he wants to do everything right–which of course might require a little time travel. The movie starts to get dramatic. It gets even more interesting when he sees Charlotte in the city and she is interested in him.

If you look at the movie cover, About Time looks like a typical love story, and it is a love story. But it doesn’t waste time with a ton of will-they-won’t-they drama. The creators let time pass and they don’t keep the protagonist stuck in his singlehood. Even though he can time travel, Tim doesn’t stay twenty-one forever. Aging is a natural part of life. This makes the story feels realistic and grounded, even with the supernatural parts. It feels like an ordinary supernaturalism.

About Time is also isn’t great because it’s a story about a couple falling in love. It is a story of the love between a father and son. His relationship with his father stuck out the most, the way they cared for each other, the way they made time for each other. Tim doesn’t ever go away and not think of home. He cares about his sister, Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson) a ton. He also loves his grandparents and his best friend.

The scenery is also very beautiful. Tim’s family lives by the lake and it is absolutely stunning. We get scenes of him and his father walking on the beach and we also get scenes of Tim with his love interest in a city apartment. We get the best of both worlds.

I liked how this story presented choices. Even a world with time travel requires Tim to make choices, and each choice has consequences. Some choices don’t have major consequences or have an exact direct correlation, but sometimes they do. One little decision can make everything different, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, we end up in the same place either way.

The story also shows how we can’t make decisions for others or choose their story. Our actions can affect them, but we are ultimately responsible for our own decisions. We can only control the choices that we make. We can help others. We can support them and spend time with them. We can’t really fix their mistakes for them. We can’t, and aren’t supposed to, save other people from their decisions or change everything for them. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t help or provide a voice of reason when someone needs to hear it. But sometimes the best way to help in hard times is just to be there for someone. We see this with Tim’s family. Tim has a big heart and wants to help them, but it doesn’t always go the way he imagines.

I liked how the story felt so ordinary. This isn’t a tale of super-talented celebrities with powers, it is about a normal guy who finds out he and his dad have an ability no one else does. He just wants to enjoy life, find love, spend time with people he cares about, and learns that with great power comes great responsibility. The movie is also pretty funny. Tim is pretty socially awkward and time travel just makes things even more awkward.

Tim’s love story was very sweet. He and his love interest had great chemistry and they just fit together. I won’t say too much about the romance to avoid spoilers, but it was really sweet and genuine. The life the build together is beautiful to watch. All of the characters just had great chemistry with each other. It felt like they were really family, friends, and couples. The the music and filming of this movie make it so beautiful. The scenes were stunning and I was just blown away how much the directors, producers, and actors put into this film. The storytelling is just amazing.

It is lovely, tragic, and memorable. Even with time travel, we cannot escape time. We have to make and accept our choices and realize that to spend our time on one thing is to disregard another. In college, I’ve heard a lot about this. The story begins with Tim at twenty-one, and the world feels full of choice and hope for the future, but after that, the choices start to narrow and also open as he grows up. Each part of adulthood provides more certainty and beauty. Tim falls in love with the life that he created, and it is truly beautiful. But of course, the story deals with real life on this earth.

We don’t live forever either. Our lives are short, and we have to decide, like Tim’s father says, what is most important to us. While we have limited time, we should appreciate the time we do have and the people in it. It is a movie that makes you want to spend as much time as possible with the most important people in your life.

This movie might make you cry– it made me tear up a bit. I liked how About Time focused a little, but not too much on decision-making and Tim’s time traveling to change things. We change what we can and accept the decisions that we’ve made. Then we make the best of them and find the beauty in the little moments, in the everyday. We also never should give up, even when we mess up. With or without time travel, it is also never too late to move forward and make better decisions.

But this isn’t a huge focus of the story. After all, making choices and preventing mistakes isn’t the whole of life. Life is living with our choices, with where we are in time. For instance, we see Tim working at the law firm, which feels pretty normal. We see him working with partners in meetings and he doesn’t do any of the romanticized court stuff we usually see on TV. Work is a way to provide for himself and his family and be happy. It is great to find a job that gives you meaning, but work is in no way everything. Tim enjoys being a lawyer, but it is a very small part of the movie because there is more to life. Perhaps the film was a little romanticized. Tim’s life is pretty perfect and amazing. He does have hard times, but his day-to-day life is mostly great.

But, it is still a great movie, and it shows perhaps, humanity at our best. There is a lot we can learn from that; we can learn to hope for a great life for ourselves and for others. Time travel or not, life can be pretty great, especially with great people. I liked how this movie, above all, stressed the necessity of caring for those around us.

About Time is full of people, family and friends, who care about each other and look after each other. Their story–not romance, not time travel itself–is what makes this movie so awesome and beautiful.

Have you seen About Time or other time travel movies? Do you like them? What would you do if you could time travel? Let me know down in the comments below.