And so, it begins.
It has been years since I last watched my favorite movie, About Time.
For some reason, I never sat down and wrote a proper movie review on it. Or should I put it this way and say: I’ve been afraid to do so? I feel like I have never been good enough or have never been able to process the movie correctly? Or should I be honest with you and say: I have been thinking about this movie since the first time I watched it in 2013?
Simply put, this is THE movie that changed my life.
Yet, this article is still not a traditional movie review. I’m not discussing cinematography, scripting, acting, transitions, lighting, or production design today. I will be writing about my thoughts inspired by the movie. Do not worry if you have not yet watched the movie, there will be no spoilers.
I remember watching the movie for the first time with two close female friends back in 2013. I watched it again with another friend in 2015. I then watched it again by myself in 2017 and 2018. And again, this year, 2021.
They ask me why this movie? I could write a book to answer this question. But I always nod and smile and reply, “because it’s about life.”
It’s never the plotline when someone falls in love with another in the movie that attracts me. It’s the portrayal of human relationships, the universal longings, and the loss-and-gain reminders that make this movie special.
Of course, unlike Tim, I was not given the ability to travel back in time. But you know what? My memories traveled through time, along with this movie. Life happens, time goes forward, and here I am, tangling myself with the past feelings and emotions and characters in them. My consciousness and thoughts are often intertwined and cause internal conflicts with myself.
Some things change, but some things never changed. I had a conversation earlier with my partner. He said to me, “you seem to always wanna resolve interpersonal relationships on the spot. You need to give yourself time to think, and what I mean is to think later. So, drop your thoughts now.” I was speechless after hearing that.
Many tell me I live in the past and the memories. They say they feel pain in my writing and artwork. I confuse myself and hurt people’s feelings unintentionally. I never wanted that. I question myself, and I think. What did I do wrong? I worked hard to be gentle to people. I want to be kind to them. I want to love everyone I love in the right way. Is there something I could fix? What should I do to love everyone around me and to make everyone who loves me feel loved? I have been afraid to hurt people, and the thought in itself hurts me.
“I think a lot of people don’t know how to handle me,” I said to my partner after worrying that I made my friends upset again.
“No, there are just a lot of people who don’t know how to handle themselves.” He said. “There’s no point for people to handle you when they can’t even handle themselves. Some people would try to help others, but the truth is that they are the ones who need help the most.”
“Do you think I’m a sad person?” I find myself asking this a lot.
“If you keep on telling yourself you’re bad at something, you would be.” He said.
I thought of another conversation with him last week. It was also about feelings and emotions. He said he never understood what it meant when people said, “don’t take it personally” because he never had, unlike me.
I’ve always known. I take things personally all the time, even when I tell people I’m cold, I don’t care, and I don’t want to know. I push people away, but a part of me wants to be understood. I want people to love me, but I am afraid to let people see through me. He points out that taking things emotionally is different from saying “noted” and “understood.” These sound like simple, straightforward statements, but they indeed are my difficulties and challenges in life.
I lock myself up all the time. And that’s when I turn myself into writing, reading, and poetry. I have always been looking for answers, solutions, and ways to solve things. It has been a natural habit for me to want to fix things, get everything done, and move on.
But that’s not how life works. That’s not how human to human relationship works.
I quickly learned that. And perhaps, that’s why this movie always finds its way to teach me and remind me that:
I cannot fix things. I cannot be the savior of all time. I’m just another ordinary person who wants to live an extraordinary life.
Tim quickly learned his lesson in the earlier part of the movie: time-traveling could never make someone love you. This time, I paused the movie and blanked out for a while. I wrote down few sentences before the thoughts escape. I did not understand what that meant beyond its literal meaning when I watched it at 16. I’m still unsure if what I get out from the specific scene is what the director wants. What I’m sure of is that this part of the movie makes me think back and answers my questions in a million different possible ways.
There are no “what ifs.” It’s LIFE we are talking about.
I wanted that specific someone to love me back. I wanted myself to love that someone. There are times in my life I wish I could have a different me to take on that different route, and I wonder if things could have been different? Everything complicates itself when it comes to love.
My close friends know how much I dislike watching movies from the romantic genre. Is it ironic that I write about love and publish love poems daily? If I were to logic with myself, I would explain that I find the love in the big screens too ideal, too perfect, and too misleading. Of course, I am aware of my biased perspective. But if I were to be brutally honest with myself, I would tell you I am just afraid of being triggered by unwanted memories and feelings.
I would question myself, isn’t this one of the purposes of movies, films, humanities, drama, music, and literature? The purpose is to remind one that another human being shares another universal worry, longing, and desire. You can see yourself through another character in a different world and experience what you cannot experience in your body.
The movie made me question myself: if I were to travel back in time, would I have gone up to the person and explain everything I had on my mind? Would things have changed? Probably not.
Every word, action, the decision belongs to its moment in time.
I came up with this conclusion for myself. I believe I will always receive something new every time I watch this movie.
I still tear up at the exact same scene, still get goosebumps from the very same line, still laughs at the same joke. But I know something within me is changing throughout these years and through the scenes in the movie.
I always tell my readers that it’s about the details in life. Pay attention to the dull, little moments in life because those are what memories are made of. And the collective memories then turn themselves into the life we know of.
After all, this is still my favorite movie, and I know it will always be.
This is the movie I want to watch with everybody I love in my life. This is the movie that makes me crave hugs. This is the movie that makes me want to love harder. This is the movie that makes me slow down to see the raw beauty in everyday life. This is the movie that makes me feel alive in the worst, demonic scenes in my world. This is the movie that makes me want to stop fixing things and live with the unresolved. This is the movie that makes me want to say yes to the future and leave goodbyes in the past.
This movie reminds me that I only have this moment, this minute, this second, and everything smaller than that.
And so, live on.
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More about Amy Hsuan Chiu (Aeimee):
Poetry & MIDNIGHTO2 Podcast: https://linktr.ee/ahcpoetry
Mandarin Writing & Podcast 散文：https://linktr.ee/aeimee