In my youth it was a sign of a good night if you ended up lying on the pavement at the end of an evening. It is not usual, however, in middle age to start an evening that way. But on Thursday night that is exactly what we did. And exactly how one of my best friend’s Sarah started her birthday weekend, not ended it.
Somerset House runs a season of outdoor cinema in their courtyard. You pay for your ticket and then arrive with your blanket, cushion, and picnic and set up camp ready to be entertained. Having followed Emma Freud on Twitter for a while I saw her tweet information about when tickets would be on sale for the world premier of About Time. A film that she and her partner THE Richard Curtis had been working on for two years and that we had been following the progress of via Emma on Twitter. I really couldn’t wait to see it and was thrilled to get four tickets as soon as they went on sale. ( So yes, we paid for this experience and I am writing this because I want to and because I genuinely loved it).
Between buying those tickets and the premier we did get invited to a sneak preview evening in a secret cinema so had actually seen the film by the time Somerset House opened. No matter. We knew we loved it by then and knew we wanted to see it again.
So we arrived at Somerset House, hopeful the weather would hold because these screenings go ahead come rain or shine and then stood in a queue and waited for our bags to searched. As people filed past us that had clearly been before. Because they knew there was a Pizza Express nearby and they were turning up with pizza. Hot pizza in boxes. No warm Scotch eggs for them. I hated them all as they filed past with their wafts of warm dough and tomato.
Now, a word of advice if you have Googled “Rules for picnics at Somerset House” and found this blog. Know this: the tickets all very clearly say in black and white NO GLASS. That is fairly straight forward isn’t it? No glass. So that includes that bottle of Champagne. Those bottles of wine. And that jar of mango chutney. All in picnic bags ahead of us and all confiscated. And delaying the rest of us who are not stupid and could read the rule. And had come with a 2.5L wine box. Each.
The atmosphere is brilliant, if you love people watching, you need to come along just for that. We had people pretty much setting up double beds to one side, a full blown cheese board being assembled to our right and in front a couple celebrating a birthday with balloons and presents. And yes, the four of us did sing as the birthday girl arrived an hour after her boyfriend, much to her utter shame.
As the sun set, we lay down on our picnic blankets, under anoraks, with wine, full of pork pie (which I did try and swap for a Pimms in a tin) and got comfy and ready for the main event.
As it was a premier, and a world premier to boot we got to see on stage Richard Curtis and the main characters from the film. A cast that includes Bill Nighy, Lindsay Duncan, Rachel McAdams, Domhnall Gleeson and my favourite Tom Hollander. It was lovely to hear from the writer and director of the film right before it starts, it gives a connection that you don’t normally get. And to hear Richard (if I may be so bold as to just refer to him thus) thank everybody including his partner Emma “with whom I make everything, including children”. Cue 2000 ticket holders going “ahhhhhhh”.
But to the film itself. The film tells the story of Tim (played by Domhnall) who learns as he turns 21 that he can travel in time. But only within his own life, as the other male members of the family also do, and that he can’t go beyond his own life. “So you cant shag Helen of Troy” says Bill Nighy, his dad.
The scenery is amazing, set in Cornwall and London I found myself missing bits of dialogue as I looked the background of the beach scenes, or how battered the doors were in the bedroom.
So it is a story of time travel but so much more, as you would expect from Richard Curtis. There are characters you fall in love with (Tom Hollander as Harry the playwright) and a love story that makes you want to just hug everybody within a mile. It’s a feel good film that makes you want to be a part of that family. To be able to travel in time to try and fix things. Big things that affect your whole family and small things like that date that went spectacularly wrong.
It’s a must see film.
Even if it means lying on a floor for two hours. Do it. You won’t be disappointed.
About Time is on general release from September 4th. Certificate no idea but should be nothing more than a 12.