Subjectivity is always important to have in mind when thinking about any piece of art. Whether it’s a book, a movie, a painting, or anything else, someone else may have a completely opposite reaction to yours.
Okay. Everybody knows that. Thanks, Captain Obvious.
What people don’t seem to grasp about this concept though, is when something doesn’t work for you, that doesn’t mean it’s poorly done. A movie with a high concept isn’t required to explain every part of its world, nor is it required to deal with the implications of the world it has set up.
For example, the quality of Field of Dreams doesn’t lessen because the audience doesn’t understand how the ghosts of the baseball players are stuck in the field. Instead, we should analyze the points the filmmakers want to make by using magic as the vehicle.
The most prominent example of this idea for me is of course About Time. As you may have read before on the blog or heard me state on multiple episodes of my podcast (the Domhnall Gleeson and About Time episodes specifically), About Time is one of my favorite movies ever made.
After I saw the movie for the first time, I wasn’t expecting to ever say this, but I’ve now seen it upwards of 30 or 40 times and there are themes within which keep me returning time after time. There are multiple aspects of the movie to which I can relate deeply: chiefly the relationship of an eldest son to his father and the relationship of a husband to his wife, but also that of a son to a mother and as a friend to others.
And while the film deals heavily with time travel, I find it to be true to real life in a way that not a lot of other movies are. The messages it sends about appreciating each day and living them intentionally are applicable constantly. They also mean a lot to me personally.
There are lots of movies which try to send this exact message, but none do it quite like About Time. Again, the movie’s plot hinges on time travel, which in turn makes the themes hinge on it as well. And this is where I choose to focus solely on the movie’s message. Because as with just about any time travel movie, you can get stuck thinking about paradoxes or plot holes. But unlike other time travel movies, About Time says something so inherently human that I can’t help but put its plot holes to the side while I enjoy the incredible ride it takes me on.
For the most part, I think I’m alone in this mindset. I don’t only apply it to About Time because if a movie simply makes me feel something and think deeply while having a serviceable plot, then it has my affection. Even just last year, Waves, Yesterday, and US all fit the bill.
But I think this all just says something about who I am. I derive a lot of meaning and understanding in life from stories – books, movies, TV shows, plays, conversational accounts. When something moves me, I like to cherish the feeling.