(2013) Subsequent to the dreaded, drunken, disappointing New Year's Eve party at home in Cornwall, Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) at age 21 - "Too tall, too skinny, too orange" - learns from his father, who after giving up teaching university students on his 50th birthday always seemed to have time on his hands, "eternally available for a leisurely chat or to let me win at table tennis," of the great family secret that all the men in this family can travel back in time.
"Although it's not as dramatic as it sounds," explains James Lake (Bill Nighy): "It's only in my own life. I can only go to places where I actually was and can remember. I can't kill Hitler or shag Helen of Troy, unfortunately." Assuring Tim that he's not joking, James provides the basic instructions to go into a dark place, such as a cupboard, clench fists, and "think of the moment you're going to, and you'll find yourself there."
Apprehensive but curious, Tim enters his armoire, exiting to find himself back at the previous evening's party; but this time he kisses Polly at midnight, which he couldn't manage last time. In further discussion of this amazing gift with Dad, who says he used most of his time travel to read literature, Tim proposes that "money would be the obvious thing" for him to pursue.
"Very mixed blessing," James replies, pointing out that Granddad screwed up in that way, being left without love or friends: "I've never bumped into a genuinely happy rich person." Rather, James advises: "You have to use it for things that you really think will make your life the way you want it to be."
So, a girlfriend and falling in love become Tim's object in writer/director Richard Curtis's romantic fantasy dramedy in which embarrassing goofs as well as disasters can be revised.
Along with his dad, Tim lives with his mother Mary (Lindsay Duncan) - "There was something solid about her. Something rectangular, busy and unsentimental. Her fashion icon was the queen" - his mum's brother Uncle Desmond (Richard Cordery) - "He was the most charming and least clever man you could ever meet" - and his "nature thing" sister Catherine (Lydia Wilson), aka Kit Kat, "about the most wonderful thing in the world."
To spend two months of the summer with the Lakes, Tim's target for affection, gorgeous and golden Charlotte (Margot Robbie), Kit Kat's "handsome but nasty boyfriend" Jimmy Kincade's cousin, arrives. However, not until the night before her departure does Tim reveal his adoration of her.
"It's just a shame you left it till the last night," she says sweetly: "You should have tried creeping along the corridor while we still had time." "All right," replies Tim: "Good. I've got it." On the do-over, revisiting Charlotte a month earlier, she tells Tim: "Why don't we see how the summer goes and then you ask me again on my last night?"
"Big lesson number one," narrates Tim, "all the time travel in the world can't make someone love you." Off to London for training to become a lawyer, Tim presents himself to family connection Harry Chapman (Tom Hollander), a playwright, who provides Tim with a room but declares he never really liked weird James.
After six lonely months, Tim goes to Dans Le Noir for dinner with his legal mate Rory (Joshua McGuire) where they're guided into a completely dark room and seated at a table with two ladies they can't see. After conversation and the meal, the four agree to meet outside. Joanna (Vanessa Kirby) goes off with Rory while Mary (Rachel McAdams) gives Tim her phone number.
However, during his attempts to rescue Harry's play on opening night from a Titanic disaster, Tim erases his evening with Mary. Recalling that Mary said she loves Kate Moss, Tim spends hours sitting in an art gallery with the famous model's photographs on display, accompanied by Kit Kat.
When Mary eventually shows up with Joanna, Tim awkwardly introduces himself, employing bits of information he remembers from their earlier conversation. "We've never met before," remarks Mary: "You're a total stranger." During the foursome's lunch together, Mary's boyfriend Rupert appears, from whom Tim learns exactly when and where he and Mary initially met at a party a week ago.
Take two, Tim makes her acquaintance at the party before Rupert arrives, sweeping Mary away for dinner; she asks him to walk her to her car, which is parked outside her residence, into which she invites him for the night. A novice in bed, he experiences his first sexual experience thrice, improve on his performance, while she will remember only the last time.
After moving in with Mary, a reader at a publisher, Tim is introduced suddenly to her visiting conservative American parents. Having a pair of ticket to a play, Tim asks Mary to accompany him, but she begs off, saying she hates theatre and would prefer bed after her parents' visit.
Instead going with Rory, as they're leaving Tim recognizes the girl who rejected him three summers before. Accompanied by her gay girlfriend Tina, Charlotte says to the young lawyer during dinner: "You know, I'm starting to think we slightly wasted that summer holiday. If we could travel back in time, maybe I wouldn't have said no."
After the wedding - a galing, drenching storm - preceded by strip-tease decisions, Tim goes through three best-man choices, finally settling on his dad. Later Tim tries to fix things for his sister from her repeatedly making bad decisions - sleazy bad guys like Jimmy, drinking, leaving jobs - "nip it in the bud" by sharing with her alone his ability to time travel.
Kit Kat confesses: "I'm the faller. Every family has, like, someone who falls, who doesn't make the grade, who stumbles, who life trips up." Dad warns his son that by going back so far and rearranging an event, "Things will have changed" in the present.
Following particular events, such as the birth of a child, some things can never be changed back to the way they were. One final secret, "the real mothership," Dad shares with Tim is that the ordinary becomes extraordinary when carefully noticed the second time.
The soundtrack features "How Long Will I Love You" (written by Mike Scott) performed by Jon Boden (vocals, guitars, mandolins, fiddle), Ben Coleman (electric violin), Nick Laird-Clowes (acoustic guitar), Sam Sweeney (fiddle); "When I Fall in Love" (written by Edward Heyman and Victor Young) performed by Barbar Gough (vocals), Sagat Guirey (guitar), Andy Hamill (bass), Tim Herniman (saxophone); and "I Will Always Love You" (written by Dolly Parton) performed by Andrea Grant.
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