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'About Time' Review: In a Wide Sea of Eyes, I See One Pair That I Recognize

By Dustin Rowles | Film | November 8, 2013 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | November 8, 2013 |

Like half the world who got married in the mid-2000s, my wedding song was Ben Folds’ “The Luckiest.” I came about it honestly. I’d been a hardcore Ben Folds fan since “Underground” was released in ‘95, and if it weren’t “The Luckiest,” another Ben Folds song probably would’ve been used as our wedding song. I mention this because “The Luckiest” is the centerpiece song for Richard Curtis’ latest, About Time, and the movie is basically a cinematic interpretation of that song mixed with some time travel, which is not used as a sci-fi gimmick so much as it is used as a way to fully express the thematic crux of that piece of music. Basically, the entire movie felt as though it was an episode idea Curtis came up with for Doctor Who while he was listening to Ben Folds, and he turned it into a feature film, a feature film that will elicit the best cry you’ve had in years.

I don’t think I’ve listened to “The Luckiest,” since my wedding day, eight years ago. There’s too much vulnerability to that song, and once you’re married, and you own a house, and you have a career, and kids, and dishes and laundry, and there’s never any time for vulnerability. We’re too cool to be vulnerable, and Richard Curtis is definitely not for te cool. That’s not to say that I’m not completely smitten with Mrs. Pajiba-hyphenate, whose name is Molly, by the way. I am completely fucking madly, embarrassingly enamored with her, but because I’m a dope, it’s not something I betray too often, except after I’ve had too much to drink or after I’ve seen an intoxicating movie. About Time is as intoxicating a movie as I’ve ever seen.

For various scheduling purposes, I had to watch the movie in a city two hours south of where I live, and when the credits rolled on About Time, it felt like my wife was 10,000 miles away as I texted her through tears in movie theater lobby in the middle of fucking nowhere, Massachusetts. That’s the kind of movie About Time is. The kind that will reduce you to a simpering mess in a movie theater lobby while you’re trying to talk to your wife and avoid the teenagers streaming out of Thor: The Dark World. It’s a movie that will beseech you to better appreciate the time you have with your loved ones, at least until the movie magic wears off and you’re racing to get breakfast finished for your kids so that you can meet that work deadline and get back home in time to make dinner. Even still, About Time will linger. You’ll hug your kid before he gets onto the bus for an extra beat, or spend an extra three minutes in bed with your loved one before you climb out to face the day.

What’s it about? How are the performances? Is the cinematography good?

Does any of that matter, really? It’s not the kind of movie where that stuff counts. It’s an emotionally driven movie specifically designed to make you fall in love with your own life again. If you’re in love, whether it’s new love, honeymoon love, or the love of a couple that has been together for 50 years, it’s probably going to feel like an intensely personal movie, like it was a movie MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR YOU. You’ll love it for the same reason you love “The Luckiest,” even though it’s an unabashedly hokey, sentimental song that cool people make fun of because, gah, how predictable. But those are the best movies, the ones where we get so lost that the details become irrelevant, the ones that remind us how much we love the ones were with, an the more you love them, the more power About Love will have over you. It is not for cynics. It is not for critics. It’s not for the cool. Cerebrally, it probably wouldn’t hold up to close scrutiny. But emotionally, there are no holes in About Time; it is a semi-sonic blast of feels that that will trigger every node of happiness and ache and affection inside of you and leave you exposed and vunlerable and smiling through a puddle of tears like a goddamn mad man.