List Envy
List Envy
Jan 25, 2021
36: Top 5 time-travel romance films
Play • 50 min


Karl Hodge

University Course Director, and former tech journalist, currently researching VR and narrative.

Time-travel films are often about fixing the big things, so says this week’s guest, Karl Hodge, but time-travel romance films address the small things that keep us awake at night.

Mark and Karl begin by looking at some of Christopher Nolan’s work, from Memento to Tenet, and trying to figure out whether they qualify as time-travel films.

Groundhog Day

This early time-loop film has not only spawned films in a similar vein, it’s effectively become its own genre, spanning TV and film.

Back to the Future

Yes there may be better films in the trilogy, but Mark picked the first because, well, it’s the first, but also because it has some unique romantic, and anti-romantic plot dynamics.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Karl chose this 2009 film, adapted from the book, partly as it countered his worry that it wouldn’t match up to the wildly popular source material. Its placement in Karl’s list obviously puts paid to that.

About Time

As much as it is a Richard Curtis film with all the trappings of a Richard Curtis film, this ranked highly in Mark’s list because of its sweetness. But it does have some holes, as the pair explore.

Kate & Leopold

Karl picked this fish-out-of-water story as a bit of an undiscovered gem. You could do worse than pick up a pint of a frozen dairy product and enjoy this sweet film.

Safety Not Guaranteed

Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza star in this as-yet-unseen-by-Mark pick, but the good news is Karl has seen it and can totally vouch for it.

The Lake House

While time-travel feels like a character in most of the pair’s picks, this film from 2006 takes a more subdued approach, focusing on the conflict the distance in time creates.

Happy Accidents

Mark’s final pick is from 2000, in which a woman meets a man from 470 years in the future. It’s one that had passed Karl by, so consider the homework set!

Time After Time

Also known as Time Freak, Karl’s final pick teaches us that any film or TV show called Time After Time – whether that’s its original name or not – is worth checking out. This one is particularly worth checking out as it focuses, not on the needs of the time-traveller, but on the chaos that can be left in the wake of someone without regard for proper time-travel etiquette.


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