When British author H.G. Wells created the term “time machine” way back in 1895, he could never have imagined the lasting impact his ideas of fourth dimension travel would have on the career of Rachel McAdams.
His book, The Time Machine, has been filmed twice for the big screen, but the ideas of shifting ripples of time have also inspired three very different movies starring the London, Ont., born actress.
This weekend she co-stars with Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy in About Time as the present day girlfriend of a 21-year-old who uses his ability to switch time zones to learn information to woo her.
“I know I have a little bit of time travel in my past but this is different,” McAdams says. “The element of time travel thrown in was unique and quirky and dealt with lightly.”
Previously the Mean Girls star appeared as Clare Abshire in The Time Traveler’s Wife, starring opposite Eric Bana playing a Chicago librarian with a genetic disorder known as Chrono-Displacement that causes him to involuntarily travel through time.
From the outset their relationship is a strange one. When they first meet she has known him since she was six years old, but because his syndrome flips him to random times in his life on an ever shifting timeline he is always meeting her for the first time. Confused? Not as confused as Clare, who tries to build a life with Henry even though his ailment keeps them apart.
Based on a best-selling novel, it’s a three-hankie story about love with no boundaries and how romance can transcend everything, even death.
In Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris it’s Owen Wilson who jumps through time — finding himself transported back to 1920s Paris and hanging with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill), seeing Cole Porter sing at a party, drinking with Hemmingway — while McAdams stays put, bringing him back to reality, as his irritating present-day fiancée Inez.
But what about actual time travel? When she was asked by AOL if there was anything she would go back in time and change in real life, McAdams said, “I was a figure skater, so I would take back a lot of fashion choices on the ice. A lot of sequins. I would pull back on the sequins a little bit and maybe less blue eye shadow.”
The cliché when reviewing a Woody Allen film is to play the “Spot the Woody” game. Since Allen stopped actually appearing in his own films it has become de rigueur to speculate on which role Woody would have played. It’s a bit of a tired game, but in his new film, “Midnight in Paris,” (which opened the most recent Cannes Film Festival) Owen Wilson is clearly playing the part. He’s a nostalgic Hollywood screenwriter who yearns to be taken seriously as an author. It’s Woody alright, despite Wilson’s California beach bum style.
In a story that harkens back to Allen’s older magic realism films like “Purple Rose of Cairo,” Gil Pender (Wilson), an American on vacation in France, finds himself transported back to 1920s Paris. For a man with “golden Age” fantasies it’s a dream come true. He meets F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston, last seen as Loki from “Thor” and Alison Pill), hangs out with surrealists, sees Cole Porter sing at a party, drinks with Hemmingway and tries to steal Picasso’s girl Adriana (Marion Cotillard). Bringing him back to reality is his irritating present day fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her obnoxious parents.
It must first be said that “Midnight in Paris” is worth the price of admissions for the lovely shots of the fetching Marion Cotillard strolling the streets of Paris in a flapper dress. It’s also worth it to see Woody do for 1920s Paris what he did for 1970s Manhattan. He has one character say, “that Paris exists and anyone would choose to live anywhere else is a mystery to me,” and after seeing the film it’s hard not to agree. Allen’s cities are often as much a character as any of the actors and Paris is no exception. Now if he’d only shoot in Toronto. It might help tourism.
“Midnight in Paris” is a fantasy, but there is a point. Every generation looks back at the past with envy, Gil comes to realize that there really never was a “golden age” and that top be truly happy he must live in the present. That resolution is a bit of a revelation coming from Woody Allen, a man whose films seem to be from a different age but the skill he brings to this film proves he’s still a vital interesting filmmaker and not a relic from a past age.