When Richard Curtis' new film "About Time" begins, it's sometime around December of 2004. The audience knows this because during a New Year's Eve party at the home of the film's young protagonist (played Domhnall Gleeson), the night's soundtrack includes t.a.T.u.'s "All The Things She Said." Curtis uses that song as an easy shorthand to express that the events of the movie are happening nine years ago, a.k.a. "All The Things She Said" is nostalgia now.
This might not come as too much of a surprise for some: The controversial single, which reached the No. 20 spot of the Billboard Hot 100 in 2003, celebrated its 10th anniversary this past summer with some internet-y fanfare. The Daily Beast spoke to Lena Katina -- who made up one-half of the Russian teen girl group with Yulia Volkova -- about the song's impact: "It feels weird, because the song is so old and I'm so young," Katina, who was 28 at the time of the interview, told The Daily Beast about the "All The Things She Said" 10-year milestone.
That's a sentiment that many might feel watching "About Time," which winds up being a stealth period piece for much of its running time. (The first iPhone isn't spotted until the very end.) Maybe, though, that notion should have been expected. In a recent piece about "Dazed and Confused," HuffPost Entertainment senior writer Mike Ryan quoted author Chuck Klosterman about this very phenomenon:
In a chapter about time travel in Chuck Klosterman's 2009 book, 'Eating the Dinosaur,; he adds an observational footnote about the 1985 movie 'Back to the Future.' Klosterman writes:
"Chuck Berry recorded 'Johnny B. Goode' in 1958. 'Back to the Future' was made in 1985, so the gap is twenty-seven years. [...] That's almost the same amount of time [between 1985 and now]. Yet nobody would refer to 'Back to the Future' as an 'oldie,' even if he or she were born on the 1990s. [...] As culture accelerates, the distance between historical events feels smaller."
Which is maybe why it's disconcerting to think about t.a.T.u. as period, even if the calendar says otherwise.
"In Greek, nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound," Don Draper, that wise fictional man, once said. "It's a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone." Remember that in 2021, when some movie uses "We Can't Stop" as a scene-setting punchline.