New Year’s Eve is my second favorite Holiday. Second only to Thanksgiving, because in the house I grew up in, my parents anniversary also fell during that time, so everyone was always a little extra happy. Nonetheless, I adore New Year’s Eve. The glamour and sparkle they show on tv, the champagne, the hope of a new year… it’s just simply magical.
For 21-year-old Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), it isn’t quite the same. He’s sort of an awkward, lanky, clumsy English guy who has no self confidence. His parents throw a New Year’s Eve party in their home near the Ocean in Cornwall, England. His rowdy buddy Jay convinces him to come out of his shell and come enjoy the party. At the stroke of midnight, everyone has to get in their New Years kiss, when abruptly, a girl who obviously wants him to kiss her, he shakes her hand awkwardly and kind of walks away. Nerves…straight boys… how adorable, right? Well, for him, it kind of sucked understandably.
The next morning, his father (Bill Nighy) tells him a secret. All the men in the family can travel back in time. All he had to do was find a dark place, ball up his fists, and think very hard about where he wanted to go back to, and after “a rumble, a tumble, and a stumble,” he’d be there. After questioning his father rather intensely, he gave it a try. Where else would he go, but back to the party he had fumbled so profoundly. He went back, made a couple of changes, and then came back to tell his father the good news. He wanted to know how he could make the most of his gift. The first thought was, of course, wealth. But apparently that had already been tried and the man who did it had been miserable. And well, if you’re not going to use it for wealth, might as well go for love.
Rachel McAdams plays the lovely Mary, the American girl who Tim just falls completely head over heels for. Lydia Wilson plays Kit Kat, Tim’s sister who is spacey and unconventional, but beautiful inside and out. Richard Cordery plays Uncle Desmond, who is either crazy or hilarious and ends up being a bit of both with enough whimsy to envy a Dr. Suess story. Their mother, Lindsay Duncan, is a very stoic character. The ensemble comes together to tell the tale of a young man with a special gift, and how he uses it to help them have better lives for themselves which help him to do the same.
I went to the theater with expectations of a story just between the romantic couple. The film is written and directed by Richard Curtis, the creator of Love Actually, Notting Hill, and Four Weddings and a Funeral. He’s like the English version of Nora Ephron. I was not prepared for the other deep relationships the male lead had with his family. The relationship he had with his father was something that made me miss my own. His relationship with his sister, the utter care and love he shows for her made me feel guilty of the times I argued with mine. The family is so bloody (It’s an English film, proper adjectives needed) perfect, you might want to gag if you go see it with a bad attitude.
This isn’t the type of movie that will do well at the Oscars this year (unless it sneaks in as a foreign film), but I tell you it was most certainly one of my favorites so far this year. I caught up with a couple who saw the film that night as well, Carol and David. I spoke with David first, who said the film could make you want to, “look back and ask yourself what you would have done differently.” His wife Carol remarked that is “a charming fairy tale.”
Not all movies win awards or critical acclaim. I’m still fuming over Cloud Atlas’ reception (you should totally watch it when you have three hours and want to be inspired for the rest of your life). But this film is worthy of your time and dollar. It will make you feel a warmth that will radiate through you for days. I’m honestly getting teary eyed as I write this.
The couple of things I didn’t care for in this movie were very minor. Even though this was probably the most impressed I’ve ever been by Rachel McAdams as far as her acting goes, I mean she was stellar. Her delivery and timing were flawless. However, whoever did her wardrobe she be burned at some sort of hideous stake. Her clothes were beyond terrible. I understand they were trying to make some sort of joke about where she lived, but when you have someone as stunning as Rachel McAdams, you don’t put her in the most hideous frocks you can find and write jokes about it. No. It is unacceptable. The other, the mother figure, I felt very disconnected from her. She really didn’t play a big enough role. As a momma’s boy, I am not sure Tim gave his mother enough care. He wasn’t very nice about her throughout the movie. I just didn’t understand why he didn’t like her as well as he did his father. I thought she could have been a bigger part of the story, but then again, there was plenty of storyline with the father that I enjoyed that I really didn’t notice it until I started picking through my notes. You may not notice it either.
Rating – 8.9/10