The apogee of the British romcom seems to be long past. It is a nearly impossible task to outshine Mike Newell’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Richard Curtis’ best is so evidently over. In the easy, comforting and anti-septic space that British romcoms have created in popular cinema, the contribution of Curtis is substantial. The director, screenwriter and producer almost single-handedly modelled the modern British romcom—having been associated with films like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Notting Hill and Love Actually. The Boat That Rocked, his last film, is an asinine comedy about a motley crew of pirate radio blokes.

Direction has not been Curtis’s forte—he has directed Love Actually and The Boat That Rocked before About Time—and it is unsurprising that he recently announced to the British media that About Time is his swansong as director.

It is less a romance than a story about time travel, with a pop-philosophical message in its linear structure. Tim, a bashful 21-year-old, lives with his family of four—doting father and mother, and an impetuous younger sister—learns that the men in his family can travel back in time. Desperately in need of a girlfriend, he uses his power to woo, who else, but an American beauty. Mary (Rachel McAdams) and Tim are soon a perfect couple with two children and some family crises to sail through.

About Time progresses like a soap opera—one mundane episode after another. It has none of the edge that a time travel story can throw up. Gleeson provides the basic romcom appeal, and the music, an eclectic score of 1980s and 1990s with like The Cure’s Friday I’m in Love, is half a bonus.

About Time released in theatres on Friday.

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