Stories about time traveling tend to concern the existential. Problems of life, love, death, wealth, and the sort; most of all, however, they tend to emphasize the Angst which lie within decision making. And so it is with “About Time”, a sentimental romantic comedy revolving around Tim as he discovers that the men in his family have the ability to time travel to their past. His father, explaining that it should be used to only finance the largest expenditures in life, is instrumental not only in the larger framework of the plot but the driving force which has him deciding to use his newly found powers to find love. True love.
The power to travel backward in time has many benefits: re-doing awkward situations, saving those closest to you from an unfortunate fate, and simply spending more time with your father before he passes away. Yet a monkey wrench is thrown in when caveats are introduced, namely, that in order to produce the same child in any given scenario the world must remain as it was during that exact moment. Thus Tim must grapple with his desire to be a father, to specific (original) children, while eventually having to say goodbye to his dad. With one of the limitations being that he is unable to go forward in time, Tim is therefore placed on a startlingly high existential ledge; how to be a good husband, father and son without letting down your family and yourself.
A plot like this is a tear jerker. Yet its subtext is also oriented towards heteronormativity. For example: Tim is able to travel back in time innumerable moments. He is able to perfect the situation. He could have profoundly changed the world with dedication and a vision. And yet he decides to find a wife, have children, and moreover, have specific children, girls, which lead the whole plot to pronounce the idealization of women (procreation) over men (latent homosexuality). Tim’s desire to field female offspring, yes, has its roots in not wishing to have and explain the time traveling abilities to his sons but seeing as how by the end of the film he produces a son regardless, the point is rendered mute with but the content between the lines sticking out: produce girls so as to produce more girls; women and the heterosexuality matrix become the bedrock of a successful relationship. I suppose this thread may have been different had there been a homosexual male but this is not relevant as all the males in this film are heterosexual.
So what is the end result? An emotional existential film for the exclusive heterosexual in you. Depending on your persuasion this may not be a bad thing, and if you choose not to see the subtext then it automatically transmogrifies into a positive. A win-win? Only if you care more for the banalities of romance then for the realities of interpersonal struggle. Of the surface over the depth. It is an film which speaks to our deep notions of finite but it also speaks to the unseen, those figments of our consciousness which dwell in the shadows of the material facts.