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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

About Time

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Domhnall Gleeson stars in a scene from the movie "About Time."
If you could play God, would you—or should you? That big question is at the heart of the romantic comedy "About Time" (Universal).

Written and directed by Richard Curtis ("Notting Hill," "Love Actually"), "About Time" is a wish-fulfillment fantasy about changing your destiny at will, in this instance to win the love of your life. It's a tempting confection, but with a bitter aftertaste. The manipulation of others for selfish reasons, coupled with disrespect for the role of divine providence in one's life, may leave the viewer feeling empty rather than satisfied.

On his 21st birthday, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is given a rather unusual present by his father (Bill Nighy). He informs his shy, insecure son that the men in the family possess a special gift: They can travel back in time. It's as easy as finding a dark space, clenching your fists, thinking of a specific moment, and you're there.

Dad offers few guidelines on how to use this ability other than a command to have "an extraordinary life." So the newly confident Tim jumps inside his bedroom wardrobe (shades of Narnia) and travels back to New Year's Eve to kiss the girl he was too shy to the first go-round.

And so Tim discovers his purpose in life: to use time travel to land a girlfriend, fall in love, and have a perfect, happy life.

At first it seems so easy. Tim meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) at a restaurant, and decides she's the one. Multiple do-overs back in time refine and, ultimately, seal the deal.

This is where "About Time" intersects 1993's "Groundhog Day." Unlike that charming film, where the hero betters himself as well as the world around him, "About Time" takes a more narrow view. Tim is only interested in his own happiness. In fact, when he tries to change the past of others (for their own good), he decides not to, as the consequences of doing so would have an adverse effect on his own carefully manufactured "happiness."

In the end, "About Time" reconciles fantasy with reality, with a message about appreciating life as it naturally unfolds, accepting the good while dealing with the bad. Unfortunately, the journey to that weepy, overly sentimental resolution is riddled with distasteful and sometimes sacrilegious "humor." The film contains semi-graphic premarital sexual activity, brief nudity, several vulgar gestures, some sacrilegious humor and sexual innuendo, and much profanity and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Louis of France: At his coronation as king of France, Louis IX bound himself by oath to behave as God’s anointed, as the father of his people and feudal lord of the King of Peace. Other kings had done the same, of course. Louis was different in that he actually interpreted his kingly duties in the light of faith. After the violence of two previous reigns, he brought peace and justice. 
<p>He was crowned king at 12, at his father’s death. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled during his minority. When he was 19 and his bride 12, he was married to Marguerite of Provence. It was a loving marriage, though not without challenge. They had 11 children. </p><p>Louis “took the cross” for a Crusade when he was 30. His army seized Damietta ini Egypt but not long after, weakened by dysentery and without support, they were surrounded and captured. Louis obtained the release of the army by giving up the city of Damietta in addition to paying a ransom. He stayed in Syria four years. </p><p>He deserves credit for extending justice in civil administration. His regulations for royal officials became the first of a series of reform laws. He replaced trial by battle with a form of examination of witnesses and encouraged the use of written records in court. </p><p>Louis was always respectful of the papacy, but defended royal interests against the popes and refused to acknowledge Innocent IV’s sentence against Emperor Frederick II. </p><p>Louis was devoted to his people, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and, like his patron St. Francis (October 4), caring even for people with leprosy. (He is one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscan Order.) Louis united France—lords and townsfolk, peasants and priests and knights—by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years the nation was at peace. </p><p>Every day Louis had 13 special guests from among the poor to eat with him, and a large number of poor were served meals near his palace. During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were given a meal, and Louis often served them in person. He kept lists of needy people, whom he regularly relieved, in every province of his dominion. </p><p>Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, he led another crusade in 1267, at the age of 41. His crusade was diverted to Tunis for his brother’s sake. The army was decimated by disease within a month, and Louis himself died on foreign soil at the age of 44. He was canonized 27 years later.</p> American Catholic Blog God passes through the thicket of the world, and wherever His glance falls He turns all things to beauty. <br />–St. John of the Cross

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