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Movie Review: About Time (2013)

about_time_posterAbout Time (2013), a British romantic comedy is a movie I was recommended to watch by a family member. On a Friday after Thanksgiving, a day we are busy getting the house ready for Christmas, we decided to give it a try. The movie started while the house was still getting settled. Kids were unruly, popcorn was still being made, etc. As we sat down to watch I could see we were going to have to find another way to be entertained.

The movie was not coming across as a family friendly movie. We stopped the film and couldn’t finish watching it in front of the kids due to some of the mature language and sexual overtones. But the idea was communicated plain enough, about 10 minutes in, that the main character was born with the ability to travel in history. He was able to travel to any point in time he lived in simply by finding a quiet place and thinking of that moment. The only actress I was familiar with was Rachel McAdams from The Notebook. She is on the cover, which I’m sure helped American audiences less familiar with some of the British actors, willing to give it a try. It worked on us. 

Domhnall Gleeson plays Tim, a young man in his 20s, who is close with his family. Shortly after discovering his ability he falls in love with his sister’s friend as she visits them for the Summer. He tries using his time traveling ability to win her heart but fails. He then moves to London and meets Mary (Rachel McAdams). They end up falling in love and getting married all the while,  Tim never tells her about his ability. Tim learns the limit of his ability in one episode where he travels back to prevent his alcoholic sister making a life changing mistake. In doing so he changed his sister’s life for the good, but when he returned home he discovered the manipulation of time cost him the child he loved.

He now had a different child and a choice. Go back and allow his sister to go through her pain and get back the child he loved or lose the child forever. Tim decides to allow the pain in his sister’s life and get back his child. The birth of a child proves to serve as distinct lines in time. To go beyond the time of the child’s birth will most definitely remove their existence. Tim’s father comes down with cancer and dies. Tim enjoys multiple time travel trips with his father but when Mary wants a third baby Tim has to come to grips with the pain of death. When he agreed to another child he was in effect, agreeing to never see his father again.

It’s a tear-jerker of a movie at the end. However, it’s also a movie to make you think about your own life. What would you go back and change? At first we may joke and say that we would avoid an embarrassing moment or an bad decision but it doesn’t take too long for the question to sink in search of a more profound answer. What sin would we go back and stop? What life altering decision (that wasn’t a sin) would we make? Would we make it if it cost the present? Would we make it if it cost our children?

The movie reminded me that God has found a way to take mistakes, sins, & bad ideas, and turn them into a life with blessings. I don’t know how exactly. To me, it seems if you have a life of bad decisions then you will end up in a bad spot. On the other hand, I consider my life and am thankful how blessed I am. In spite of sins and bad decisions we understand that God is working all things for the good of his people and to the return of the Son. Difficult to imagine how? Certainly, but the idea seems clear in two ways. First that God is moving all of history in a direction. Secondly, in our life, which is part of the greater tapestry of world history, he has blessed us in Christ even when we have been unfaithful.

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