3/ ABOUT TIME. DIR: RICHARD CURTIS.
Richard Curtis is a man I admire, even if I don’t always like his work. Four Weddings and a Funeral is a fun film but Love Actually really annoys me. About Time is hands down his crowning achievement – a statement Curtis allegedly agrees with. This is another story where we follow our lead character through his life, though instead of ending with his death – as these films usually do – it ends when he finally learns to be truly happy. When a young man learns that he has inherited his father’s ability to travel back to points in his life, he starts using the ability to get him what he truly wants. At first, that’s just sex, but soon it becomes love. Basically, it’s The Butterfly Effect but without the unpleasantness that made that film so hard to stomach.
The cast does a terrific job working with this script, with Domhnall Gleeson coming out on top. His character is instantly relatable and likeable. Despite a worrying start, where the film tells us that the family is eccentric, we quickly identify with all of them on some level. Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy play excellent support character, with the ever-amusing Tom Hollander and an early role from Margot Robbie standing out too. What we get is a film that is admittedly more sentimental than funny, but that hit’s what notes it needs to. This is in no short supply thanks to Curtis’ direction.
The film does admittedly carry a lot of plot holes with it. If you look for them, you’ll spot them easily and if you want them to get in the way for your enjoyment then that’s easily done too. For me though, this comes down to the simple fact that it’s a time travel film. Looper and Terminator 2 were riddled with plot holes too, but I still loved both of those films. It’s the same here. Here we have someone who can go back at look at how far he has come. There’s a subplot with the father towards the end of the film that feels very sweet and gives us a nice metaphor for letting go. About Time is not the kind of film I usually go for, so for it to work as well as it did for me deserves my applause.
2/ FORREST GUMP. DIR: ROBERT ZEMEKIS.
Ah, Forrest Gump. Loved when it came out, hated not too long afterwards. I’m not going to get into the politics of this one, because I’m sure I don’t understand it all that well. But I will say that the Academy Award controversy is very silly. Forrest Gump won the award for best picture, despite coming out in an exceptionally strong year with films like Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, The Lion King, The Crow and Natural Born Kills as competition. For this, many see it as overrated. Personally, while I do prefer all of the above, I still love Forrest Gump.
It’s a mostly unpolitical, completely innocent and charming look at the live of an American man growing up in the time. Tom Hanks is completely dedicated to the character and all the supporting actors deliver just as good a job. During Forrest’s narration we see a number of key moments in American history, like Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination and Watergate. All of which our lead is completely oblivious to. All he wants is to win the heart of the woman who has his. As everybody well knows, Forrest isn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the draw. Yet his ignorance is not only amusing, it’s very endearing. We have a man who is watching his country go through massive changes, and we know that, but he’s content to just live his life. The only other way that could be done is very cynically, which would get pretty old very quick.
We follow Forrest from child to father. He doesn’t really get smarter, he just gains more experience as his live goes on. Throughout his life he goes through all the good and all the bad that we go through, and in the end has lived a pretty extraordinary life. The ending is bitter sweet, which is very fitting, and we find that things end pretty much how they had started. It’s a film that adults can watch and be amused by, and one that kids can watch and enjoy. It works on all those levels. Yes, Shawshank is more deserving of the Oscar, but you can’t hold the Academy’s choice against a great film.