First of all, the San Francisco Chronicle hit the nail on the head when it described Richard Curtis movies in general as “a reliable blend of clever banter and emotional manipulation” and it rightly gave the latest one, ‘About Time’, a positive review. When it’s out as a DVD, About Time will definitely be on the shelf at home as a comfort film. The best thing about this film is that the syrup has been dialed a long way back and the plot has a lot more spirit, avoiding the emotional overload of ‘Love Actually’, (or ‘Luvvies Actually’ given the huge roster of great British actors who repeatedly feature in his films).
As a Londoner by adoption, I reveled in the parts of About Time set in North London – Curtis manages to make even the dreariest tube station or play ground look attractive – he hones in on the beauty of every day people and places, graffiti and all.
But what really struck me about the film was Domhnall Gleeson who is now channeling the scripts and style that Hugh Grant made famous in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ and his other rom coms since.
What might have once been attributed to Hugh Grant, can now clearly be seen to be the voice of Richard Curtis – the wry, twinkly, and then suddenly impassioned cadence dressed up in jeans, a classic British ‘jumper’ and various bad haircuts. Rather like watching Owen Wilson channeling Woody Allen in ‘Midnight in Paris’, Gleeson delivers Curtis’ lines with an accuracy that reminds us constantly of the author’s style.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Gleeson does next. His performance as Levin in Anna Karenina was not very inspiring; but in his defense I think it must be difficult to emote when one’s hair is over-grown, wearing a full beard and sporting a high frilly shirt collar. He had nearly no lines in the film, and left the impression of an embarrassed ginger Tom who has been dressed up and put in a pram.
So Gleeson joins my list with Damian Lewis to now make it two red heads who have become interesting screen stars. Go Ginger Nation!