Cert 12a | By Daniel O’Mahony
FOR ME, it was always going to be about love.” That’s the reaction of Domhnall Gleeson’s Tim upon discovering he can travel through time. A knowing line from writer-director Richard Curtis, whose Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually trademarked the comedic pitfalls of falling in love on screen (he’s stated that About Time is partly autobiographical).
Like all the males in his family, Tim has the ability to revisit his past and correct anything he wasn’t happy with first time round (if only it was fully autobiographical; Curtis could go back and erase all trace of The Boat That Rocked). Brilliant, he thinks, this can help me get a girlfriend! So he packs his bags and moves to London in search of love.
About Time feels like Curtis’ attempt at making a big statement. There’s a lot of romance, so no change there, but it also deals with family, friends and fatherhood – everything feels a bit more grown up. Surprising, considering the film begins with a time travelling twenty one year old.
Gleeson is endearing enough as the bashful Tim. As with all male leads in Richard Curtis films, it’s difficult to avoid comparisons with Hugh Grant; he isn’t as smarmy as the floppy-haired mega-fop, but doesn’t quite have the charm either.
Before long, Tim runs into Mary (a brilliant, beguiling Rachel McAdams) in a well-written scene set in a pitch-black restaurant. An Anglo-American love affair is ignited and another Curtis trope is ticked off the list. Shy young men will feel painful empathy with Tim’s blundering, and not a little envious of his power to rectify past mistakes. It’s a testament to the quality of the script that his regular traversing of time doesn’t feel gimmicky.
Bill Nighy turns in an exquisitely natural performance as Tim’s father, and the relationship between the two is one of the film’s real joys.
The plot loses its thread after a while, and muddles slowly through the middle third, leaving the audience unsure quite where it’s all leading. Fortunately, it brings it back around, setting us up for the inevitable heart-warming montage.
Some things never change.
COLOURS OF THE KALAHARI
Mall Galleries | By Roderick Gilchrist
TWENTY years ago, an unknown female cattle herder living in a shack on the edge of Africa’s desolate Kalahari desert, ignited a fierce debate in the UK about “Britishness” that sent Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ballistic. This unlikely sequence of events was a consequence of British Airways dropping the union flag that had always emblazoned the tail fin of their jets and replacing it with art from the developing world – including a copy of a rock painting by Botswana artist Cg’ose Ntcox’o. BA said they felt this dramatic change in corporate identity was more universally embracing, and that the union flag was hindering business in more hostile countries. When Thatcher was shown a model of a jumbo with Cg’ose’s art on the fin she was so appalled at the airline’s ditching of the flag that she threw her handkerchief over it in disgust. It wasn’t long before the traditional livery returned to BA’s fleet.
Two decades later, British art lovers can view Cg’ose’s remarkable paintings for themselves now that many of her canvases are on display at London’s Mall Galleries alongside paintings by other bushman artists. Cg’ose’s swirling, dreamlike works represent the plants and animals of the Kalahari where she grew up and follow the traditions of natives who began painting on rocks and caves. Brightly coloured lino cuts and lithographs preserve the political and social history of her nation.
Cg’ose receieved only a small fee from BA and chose to spend the money on a few cows for her village. She still lives in the Kalahari, but paints with oils in a studio thanks to sponsorship. For that we should be thankful – don’t miss your chance to see the Picasso of the Veldt.