About Time

Director: Richard Curtis (2013)

Having torpedoed his own ­reputation with his previous film, The Boat That Rocked, Richard Curtis does nothing to rescue his career with this twee time-­travelling comedy drama.

About Time is the writer and director’s indulgent tribute to fatherhood. Curtis is a long-time shameless magpie with other ­people’s ideas and here he’s content to ­complacently plunder his own ­material – recreating the wedding dress scene from Four Weddings And A Funeral.

Along with a wedding and a funeral, About Time has much familiar, unfunny, ‘comic’ ­profanity. Poor Domhnall Gleeson is apparently under instructions to ape Hugh Grant while a sickly-sweet voice-over is reheated from Love Actually and/or Notting Hill.

On top of all this, the actors have to wade through their scenes while gallons of syrupy music is poured over them.

In About Time, when Tim (Gleeson) turns 21 he is told by his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in the family have a secret ability to travel through time.

By standing in a dark room and clenching his fists Tim can appear anywhere in his own past.

With incredible opportunities now available to him, Tim decides to settle down to a dull life of work, babies and playing ping-pong with his Pa.

Tim is useless with women and exploiting time travel to seduce the American Mary (Rachel McAdams) is the only ­exciting thing he does with his gift. Curtis is typically so ­uninterested in her character that his ­habitual Yank-bashing is limited to giving her dodgy hair and dowdy clothes.

Tim’s friends and family are bumbling idiots or foul-mouthed miseries that irritate as much as the wobbly camera work.

One scene takes place entirely in a blacked-out restaurant which means we’re watching a blank screen and listening to a poorly scripted radio play – filming it in silence may have improved it.

The dominant image of this film is of a sex-starved man sitting alone in a dark cupboard and gripping his sweaty palms.

Curtis has threatened to stop ­directing after this latest offering and that would indeed be about time.

★☆☆☆☆

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