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Rachel McAdams
Domhnall Gleeson
Tom Hollander
Bill Nighy.
Richard Curtis.
Richard Curtis.
Running Time
123 minutes

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About Time
The Time Traveller's Strife

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Turning 21, Tim (Gleeson) discovers he has inherited the ability to travel in time from his father (Nighy). He decides he must use this gift in pursuit of life's greatest treasure: love

About Time
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A time-travel movie, starring a young red-headed guy and an old fella with crazy hair? If Richard Curtis’ About Time sounds like the aborted Eric Stoltz incarnation of Back To The Future, you need to park your DeLorean at the door. There will be no burning tyres, high-speed skateboarding or Huey Lewis here. Where Zemeckis floored it at 88 mph, Curtis’ tale unfolds at more like 30 mph. Both, though, ponder many of the same questions and have that rare ability to make you think and feel at the same time.

About Time is a quintessentially Curtis joint, with all the inherent baggage — good and bad — that that label flags up. There will be heart-on-sleeve emotion. There will be an array of supporting characters you’ll either want to cuddle or smack in the face. There will be a hot American woman and her unlikely British suitor. There will be delirious swearing. And, of course, there will be rain. Lots of rain.

If all the above makes you want to reach for the insulin then you should on paper, though not in reality, pass. (You should also probably question your life-view, but let’s not get started on all that.) And if you are of the camp that has enjoyed Curtis ever since Four Weddings And A Funeral, and hadn’t even noticed his propensity to drift into disproportionately high lovey-doviness at times, then you’re in for an absolute treat.

For About Time is Curtis’ most interesting, mature, profound and deeply moving movie. It also features some cracking gags about oral sex, and the funniest sex scene since Emma Thompson got a piece of toast stuck to her arse-cheek in The Tall Guy.

What’s most impressive is how Curtis backs up his pre-release claims of this being a movie based in his universe but also a progression of it. He may have cast pretty much the most adorable romantic leading lady working today (Rachel McAdams, delivering yet another you’d-marry-her-in-a-heartbeat performance), but in truth, Curtis is only temporarily concerned with whether our lovable hero can win his Yankee damsel’s hand. In this, Curtis’ ambitious magnum opus, his guy gets his girl, loses her and gets her back before we’ve even hit the halfway mark.

The real focus is on fathers and sons. And in Bill Nighy and Domhnall Gleeson, a none more British Dad and his Boy, Curtis has found a winning formula to stitch into one that has already worked so well for him for years. Gleeson is terrific, both as the early hormonal dork pining after girls so far out of his league they may as well be aliens, and as the latter part of the movie’s magnetic grown-up. Nighy’s scatty charisma, meanwhile, is the perfect foil. And though the movie veers wildly in the early part of its third act (most distracting being an insane and unsuccessful shift into some sort of British Butterfly Effect territory), it is their relationship, a beautifully played mix of contradiction, understanding and affection, that elevates it come the end into something properly wonderful. At once intricately plotted, deceptively simple and proudly British, it’s a romantic Inception — in a tatty jumper.

More than just a time-travel rom-com, this is a movie that asks you questions and doesn't sugar-coat as many of the answers as you'd expect. Smart and sweet, funny and genuinely moving. Should probably come with a 'there's something in my eye' warning.

Reviewed by Mark Dinning

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for About Time
Empire Star Rating


Charming, funny and genuinely moving with great performances. Nothing wrong with that is there? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gloppy at 00:10, 11 April 2014 | Report This Post

About Time - Five Stars All Round

One of the best films I've seen in a long time. An original "take" on time travel. Charming, bitter sweet, hilarious at times, 5 star acting all round, visually masterful & great music to boot - this is a film I could definitely watch again ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joannakanga at 11:10, 07 January 2014 | Report This Post


It's about time so it's a bit convoluted. It's too long but not a bad rom-com. ... More

Posted by chang at 10:02, 31 December 2013 | Report This Post

Tim`s father tells him that the men in his family have a special gift: they can travel back in time (back in time, not to the future). Upon hearing this he has his doubts but once he has tried it he finds out that it has a lot of positive things. He gets to know the very pretty Mary (Rachel McAdams) and uses his gift to the max, of course not thinking of the fact that his gift has some downsides as well... The new film from Richard Curtis (Love Actually) is a beautiful and entertaining romcom. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 00:17, 17 November 2013 | Report This Post

Thanks Empire!

I have to thank you Empire. Thank you for giving so much coverage to an indie little romantic comedy like this one. While reading the magazine, i was kind of intrigued. When "About Time" was finally out in my country, i gave it a shot... and really it's one of the best comedies i've seen recently. It was beautiful and moving, and immensely funny (the entire theatre laughed a lot throughout). If you hadn't given "About Time" so much visibility, I would never have heard of it. So again a bit... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dseys at 15:52, 11 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: About Time

Saw this last night, due to getting my timings wrong and not wanting to wait around for an hour. I was really pleasantly surprised. I admit I had very low expectations, but they ere well exceeded. It had its share of schmaltz of course, but not too much overdone. I certainly didn't need a hankie. The performances of the main characters is what makes this enjoyable. I particularly liked the indiscreet uncle. Asking the bride-to-be who was the father of her unborn child was brilliant. Not lif... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by GCH at 15:33, 03 October 2013 | Report This Post

Enjoyed immensely...

Really enjoyed it... as with all time travel movies it's best to take a leap of faith but the film as a whole made me smile. This review summed up my thoughts perfectly and is well worth a look. Edit - personal links can go in sigs, but please don't advertise your own site in posts, ta ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robertobaggypance at 16:12, 19 September 2013 | Report This Post

Touch of class

Whilst by no means perfect (the flimsy time travel rules are often bent to suit the plot - and why can't Curtis throw in the odd northern accent?!) but I found the film to meet the expectations of the excellent trailer. Touching, moving (particularly the seens between fathers and their children) and impeccably acted, the 2 leads are outstanding. Highly recommended, as Empire says - hankies will be required. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jack Ryan at 00:33, 18 September 2013 | Report This Post

I am a huge fan of Richard Curtis in the tv world but not so much with his big screen writing . Really didn't like love actually . I thought this was a beautiful film . The time travel plot really being the background about the story of fathers and sons . Spellbinding . ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jezy at 21:31, 16 September 2013 | Report This Post

RE: About Time

The night after another unsatisfactory New Year party, Tim Lake’s father tells his son that the men in his family have always had the ability to travel through time. Tim can’t change history, but he can change what has happened in his own life. Tim immediately sets out to get himself a girlfriend but that turns out not to be as easy as you might think, with his attempts to woo a friend who is staying with his family, failing miserably. Moving from the Cornwall coast to London to train as a l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 23:13, 14 September 2013 | Report This Post

About Time

Really enjoyed this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by VincentHanna at 15:18, 13 September 2013 | Report This Post

Why not 5 stars?

I thought this was fantastic. Mark's review does it justice and on the podcast it met with universal praise from the Empire team. My question is, why not 5 stars? Mark mentioned there was "plenty to criticise" but didn't really mention what that was....other than that his girlfriend hated it (assume she is now an ex-girlfriend?). As far as I can tell it is the perfect rom-com-that-isn't-really-a-rom-com and it seemed like any criticisms you levelled at it were ones of personal t... More

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Posted by faulknerdrummer at 18:35, 09 September 2013 | Report This Post


About time for another Richard Curtis film. And this one does NOT disappoint. I had only heard good things before seeing the film and in turn I have only good things to say after seeing it. It made me laugh and it made me cry as a good rom com should, and I didn't feel the time travel was over complicated as most time travel related movies try and do. It lives up to Curtis' previous films and I feel is a good sign of, (though I'm still going to wish for more.) Overall must see, an uplifting feel... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HolleePopp at 14:24, 07 September 2013 | Report This Post


Great expectations stemming from what has gone before - love 4 weddings hill actually - but this just never seemed to take off for me. Not enough laugh out loud moments - some wry observational pieces were ok but in general with the calibre from previous this seems a little lite and disapointing ... More

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Posted by ppointin at 08:20, 06 September 2013 | Report This Post

Loved it.

I'm not a big fan of Curtis. Love Actually is kinda fun, but this is leagues ahead of that. A really smart, cleverly done film. Becomes funnier as the movie progressives. Never feels saccharine, or forced. And Nighy is just perfect - *perfect*. ... More

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Posted by tysmuse at 01:21, 06 September 2013 | Report This Post

RE: About Time

It may seem odd at first that Richard Curtis was directing a time travel movie, considering the works he’s done before are contemporary romantic comedies from Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill. However, in his third directorial feature and first rom-com since Love Actually, Curtis’s approach to science-fiction is secondary to what he does best: make something sweet and funny. At the age of 21, Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) discovers he is the latest male member of his family to ha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 19:47, 05 September 2013 | Report This Post

Time-travel, Actually.

About Time is to time-travel movies what Shaun of the Dead is to zombie flicks; it's not what it's about, but it's how the story happens. If you can forgive the duration, it's a funny, moving film that deserves a wider audience that it'll probably get. Although it also deserves a more ruthless editor… ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 00:53, 20 August 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Richard Curtis?

Although I started off regretting my decision to see this ("Oh God Curtis, here we go again!"), this ended up turning into a really touching film about the relationship between a father and his son, and about letting go and moving on etc etc. Finally Richard Curtis makes a film that matters! 4/5 ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 23:58, 19 August 2013 | Report This Post

Richard Curtis?

I haven't seen it and here's my review... ... More

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Posted by philshepp at 19:08, 10 August 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Richard Curtis?

Saw this a few weeks back when it was the "surprise movie" at the Edinburgh Film Festival. It's just your pretty typical Curtis thing. Awkward Posho with wealthy "eccentric" family and friends finds love with Pretty American Lady. Lots of embarrassing situations and soppiness ensue. Add to that a sci-fi device that only works so far as it tends to break its own rules which don't really make a lot of sense anyway. Not that it really matters as it is just a maguffin around which the awkward posh ... More

Posted by Scruffybobby at 20:33, 09 August 2013 | Report This Post

Richard Curtis?

I haven't seen it and here's my review. ... More

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Posted by Jonny24 at 18:52, 09 August 2013 | Report This Post

Is it me or is Rachel McAdams trying to corner the market in Romantic Time Travelling movies ?? ... More

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Posted by tangerinedreams at 16:20, 09 August 2013 | Report This Post

Unusual for Empire to review a film that is a few weeks away from its release date. Can't wait for the film though. ... More

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Posted by jezy at 12:19, 09 August 2013 | Report This Post

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