Richard Curtis has directed three movies - Love Actually, Pirate Radio, and About Time. Love Actually is one of my go to Christmas movies, because, well, it's just great. Pirate Radio has been sitting in my "to watch" stack for over a year (I'm just bitter because I never saw it in the theater). But I saw About Time tonight, and I'm both joyous and sad. Joyous, because it's one of my favorite movies of the year. Sad - because I feel like I'm the only person who actually went and saw it.
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is just your average, ordinary, slightly awkward guy. He's part of a loving family with Dad played by Bill Nighy (who, as always, knocks it out of the park). All he wants is a girlfriend, but he has some problems with his execution. But what would happen if he had a chance to do things over? And that's the secret his father reveals to him. The men in their family have the ability to travel through time. There are certain rules Tim has to follow, but nothing that really causes a lot of "Butterfly Effect." It appears that each family member has used this power in a different way (go for the money, read every book possible, etc). Tim really just wants to use it to help his love life.
But, hey, when the object of your affection is Rachel McAdams (who plays Mary), why wouldn't you want to do everything right? And that's what makes this appealing and not creepy. Tim is using his powers to make himself look good, sure, but he wants to make his relationship with Mary work. He uses his powers to build (not create) a life that is filled with love and joy and sometimes sadness.
And the reason we become so invested in Tim and his entire family, is because everyone that we meet is so well-defined. Besides his family, Tim and Mary's friends, Tim's co-worker, Tim's roommate, and so many others are given distinct personalities. Heck, Tom Hollander's Harry (the playwright Tim is sharing a flat with) is one of the surliest, funniest, and most honest characters I've seen in a while.
The idea of what would happen if we were given a second chance at certain things is incredibly appealing. The simple story of a man who takes those second chances, and then learns to appreciate the here and now, is even more appealing. The film is funny, touching, sad, and thoughtful, and sometimes all at once. It's never overwhelming, it's always smart, and it's filled with great characters. It's one of my favorite movies of the year, and I really can't recommend seeing it in the theater highly enough. But you've probably only got about a week or so to do that. So get on that.