Brian Henry Martin at the movies

A Ginger Hugh Grant?

Published Thursday, 12 September 2013
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I'm stuck in a middle of a slushy time warp. A wedding, a funeral, an American gal with an English geek in picturesque London caught up in embarrassing situations, neatly wrapped up with a life lesson in love ...

But it's not 1994 and I'm not watching Four Weddings And A Funeral, but the new film from Notting Hill writer Richard Curtis.

About Time is Curtis' third film as director and is a bittersweet romantic comedy with a science fiction twist; well, time travel actually. "Too tall, too skinny and too orange", that's how the stumbling bumbling Tim describes himself. He's our unlikely hero, the unlucky in love young lawyer whose life is about to take a very strange turn. Tim is the hapless charmer, a spare part, tailor-made for Hugh Grant, but this time, he is being played by an ill-fitting red-haired Dubliner.

It's not easy when your dad is Ireland's best loved actor to emerge out of his shadow, but Domhaill Gleeson has done just that. Following in the footsteps of Brendan, in recent years Gleeson Jr has graduated from Hogwarts and the Harry Potter films to become a hot shot young actor. However, he is a very odd choice as romantic lead Tim, but this is a very odd film.

The morning after an embarrassing New Year's Eve party, 21-year-old Tim is summoned by his father (Bill Nighy) into his study for one of those coming-of-age man chats. "Prepare for strangeness," his dad tells him, explaining that the men in their family can travel in time.

"I can't kill Hitler," quips the always brilliant Nighy. "Or shag Helen of Troy, unfortunately."

This is a great shame for the drama ahead, as it means that dim but nice Tim can only time warp to correct his numerous social faux pas with the opposite sex. Forget about saving the world, he soon realises the real geeky benefit of his genetic superpower: "It would be just great, if it would help me get a girlfriend."

This he does when he meets the beautiful but insecure American girl next door, Mary. Handy then that Mary, the time traveller's girlfriend is played by Rachel McAdams, The Time Travellers Wife. They fall in love, then an unfortunate time-travel incident means he's never met her at all. So they meet for the first time again-and again-and-again ...

For Richard Curtis, this must have been hilarious on the page - but on the big screen it is tedious. Tim's quantum leap is achieved by simply standing in a darkened wardrobe and clenching his fists, hardly cutting edge. About Time is a very silly love story, which is as romantic as being slapped in the face by a wet fish again-and-again-and again ...

At the end, I was left wondering, could I travel back in time to before I bought my ticket?

About Time (Cert 12a) is now on general release.

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.

Twice.

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