In the summer of 2018, I had my first experience with the film About Time. I had heard it recommended on a podcast and decided to give it a try.
The elevator pitch was interesting and fun – a geeky 21 year-old finds out he has the ability to time travel within his own life, so he decides to use his new ability to try to find a girlfriend. It seemed like the perfect movie to watch with my then-girlfriend (now wife) who likes romantic comedies and time travel.
We were expecting the typical “boy and girl meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after” romp, but we got so much more. The film, written and directed by Richard Curtis, is much more interested in exploring ideas about our everyday lives. It dives into the decisions we make, how we treat others, and the importance of valuing every day of our “extraordinary, ordinary” lives.
Now, about 40 views later, it has become a top-5 all time movie for me.
There is so much more I can say – and will say down the line – about About Time and its incredible messages, but for now I want to focus on one specific aspect of the movie that works to perfection: Domhnall Gleeson’s leading performance.
Over the last ten years, Gleeson has had a slow but steady rise in his Hollywood career. He started off just as the son of well-known actor Brendan Gleeson, then made his way into auteur-driven fare, and finally all the way up to major character in a franchise like Star Wars.
But out of all the great projects he’s been involved with and which I’ve loved, nothing quite hits me like About Time.
Everything rides on Gleeson’s performance in this movie. He takes the focus away from the time travel, where other movies can tend to become bogged down, and puts it on the personal. As the audience’s avatar, he brings something really special and tender to the film as a whole.
By the end, you’re not thinking about any inconsistencies in the time travel mechanics. Instead, you’re taking a look at your life and thinking about what you value. Are you getting caught up in life’s daily frustrations and disappointments, or are you remembering everything with which you are blessed in life?
Lots of movies have made me think about life, but the list of movies which have actually worked themselves into how I act every day is much shorter. About Time tops that list, and it wouldn’t be there had Domhnall Gleeson not made it so accessible.