I’ve had a bit of down time recently with a few colds, a sick toddler and the Easter long weekend, so I used the opportunity this couch time provided to catch up on a few films I’ve been wanting to see for a while. This also coincided with me shopping at Woolworths instead of my usual Aldi to collect those flipping dominoes, so I kept passing those big green Oovie machines at the entrance to the store. A couple of times I noticed the films advertised on the top as being ones I’ve been wanting to see, so I decided to try out the machine. At $3.50 a DVD, it’s half the price of our local DVD rental shop (yes, we still have one of those here) and I don’t have to have cash on me to do it as it takes credit card.
I’ve been wanting to watch this since it came out at the movies. I missed it at the cinemas, then just never got around to watching it on DVD until a few weeks ago. It’s a Richard Curtis film (Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Boat That Rocked, Bridget Jones’ Diary, etc, etc, etc!), so I had very high hopes because I loooove a well-constructed rom-com like nothing else on earth. All the better if it has quirky, British characters in it. I’m so pleased that About Time totally lived up to my very high expectations! Starring Rachel McAdams, Domhnall Gleeson, and Bill Nighy, the film tells the story of Tim Lake (Gleeson), a young man from Cornwall with a lovingly eccentric family. When Tim turns twenty one, his father (Nighy) tells him the family secret: all the men in the family have the ability to time travel. Time travel is a tricky concept in film, and one that I think can often become confusing if it’s not well done. This film keeps it relatively simple though and the story follows Tim’s life as a young barrister who meets and falls in love with Mary (McAdams), an American working at a publishing company. His time travel escapades are largely spent trying to fix things for those he loves – his housemate’s theatrical opening night, his sister’s love life, and of course, the first impression he leaves on Mary. The performances are gently comedic and incredibly sweet, and it’s a film that envelopes you with it’s warmth and humour. I can’t believe I waited so long to watch this, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting a quiet night in with a really nice film.
This Is Where I Leave You
Based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Tropper, this is a film with an all-star ensemble cast: Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne, Adam Driver, Timothy Olyphant, Corey Stoll, and Dax Shepard. I saw the trailer for this a while ago and was intrigued. The story revolves around siblings Judd (Bateman), Wendy (Fey), Paul (Stoll) and Phillip (Driver) gathering with their mother (Fonda) to sit Shiva in their childhood home after the death of their father. The morning of his father’s death, Judd walks in on his wife in bed with his boss, so his solo journey to go home to mourn his father is tinged with bitterness at the demise of his marriage as well. He reconnects with Penny (Byrne), his high school crush, and his sister Wendy also reconnects with her high school boyfriend Horry, who is living with a brain injury. Judd’s brother Paul and his wife are struggling wtih infertility, and Phillip, the youngest brother arrives with his older girlfriend and therapist, Tracy, in tow. There’s an underlying current of controlled chaos in this film, as the characters strive to conceal their unhappiness while they sit through seven days of Shiva with their mother. Family secrets are revealed, reconnections are fleeting and sad, and grief runs through everything that happens. With such a large cast, I wondered how well the various story arcs would flow, but happily I remained engaged with every character throughout the film, as the plotlines intersected seamlessly (the script was written by Tropper, which is always a huge plus for adaptations). Watching this made me feel like I was a family member witnessing everything unfold from the background, which was a comfortable place to be. I think I’m definitely going to have to read the book, because there were a number of things I desperately wanted to know more about or see fleshed out fully, but ultimately this film left me wanting more because I genuinely liked the characters, flaws and all. Definitely highly recommend this one as well!
Possibly my least favourite of the three films, but not for lack of a bad storyline. This is based on the book Where Rainbows End by Irish novelist Cecelia Ahern (whose book P.S. I Love You was also adapted to film). The film centres around Rosie (Lily Collins) and Alex (Sam Claflin), who have been best friends since they were kids. They make plans to leave the UK and go to Boston to attend university and both get accepted to the schools of their choice. In a flashback to Rosie’s eighteenth birthday we see that they finally take their relationship to the next level when they kiss while out celebrating. Rosie is rip-roaringly drunk, though, and doesn’t remember the next day, telling Alex she wished the night never happened. They attend their school formal with different people, and Rosie falls pregnant after a her first time involves a contraception malfunction. She doesn’t tell Alex about the baby, and instead just never goes to Boston to meet up with him. His return home months later finally forces her to reveal her secret and the remainder of the film follows their separate journies through their late teens and twenties as they reconnect and drift apart over and over again. That’s the reason I wasn’t as engrossed in this film as I wanted to be – I was really worried that the conclusion of the film would reveal that they just permanently missed their romantic window with each other. The end of the film felt a little rushed to me, and I suspect that I would enjoy this a lot more if I read the book, as the novel’s telling of the story is done through letters, emails, and instant messages, which I think can work really well (see Rainbow Rowell’s book Attachments for evidence of this). Collins and Claflin have great chemistry though, and they carry their character’s hopes and disappointments superbly. Two lesser actors would have made this a mediocre film that I probably would have turned off halfway through. But it is a nice film and I was rooting for the characters to finally connect with each other, so if you want something gentle and sweet to watch, this would fill a couple of hours quite nicely. I do want to read Ahern’s novels now, because I know several people who have raved about them!
What have you watched recently? Anything good?
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