The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (MOVIE REVIEW)
Runtime: 98 Minutes
Director: Ian Samuels
Cast: Kyle Allen, Kathryn Newton, Jermaine Harris, Anna Mikami
After Groundhog Day’s debut in 1993, it has started to become more apparent how the implementation of a time loop scenario in film is becoming more and more mundane. With an onslaught of recent efforts like Happy Death Day, Palm Springs, and now A Map of Tiny Perfect Things, what was once such a unique sci-fi concept has now become more of a tired trope as of late. But thanks to two stellar performances, and a unique spin to the time loop idea at play, Tiny Perfect Things not only satisfies as a charming romcom, but the twists it provides thanks to the gimmick helps to give it more profound legs than what could have been anticipated.
The film follows Mark, a teenage boy who has grown used to the fact that he’s been living inside a time loop for days and days on end, knowing every part of everyone’s lives as he repeats the cycle over and over again. That is, until he meets a young girl named Margaret, who is the only other known person besides him to be experiencing the same 16 hour cycle he does. As the two grow and bond with each other being the only ones who remember the events of the same day, they decide to put together a journal full of the tiny perfect things they experience, but it becomes more and more clear that Margaret has a dark secret which explains why she wants to remain in the loop.
The biggest hurdle that a film like A Map of Tiny Perfect Things had to overcome was how it had to make an almost 30 year old sci-fi trope feel original. In the case of most time loop storylines, a film opens with the central character going about their day and then discovering over a series of events about how they are reliving the same day. With this film, the trope is cleverly averted, with Mark being introduced to the audience as someone who has been in the time loop for ages. He’s used to every single repetitive action that goes about in people's lives, contemplates his own existence with his gamer best friend who doesn’t remember their conversations, and in many ways has become emotionally numb to the eternity he’s accepted. Even when the film has familiar elements to the usage of a time loop, the 1st act sets up a unique enough spin on the trope to help it feel original for this kind of story, which is essentially a love story spanning a shared sense of isolation.
Through the use of the time loop, the film cleverly uses the relationship between the curious Mark, and the slightly more cynical Margaret as a unique ploy to set up the more romantic angle and give it a stronger sense of meaning. They’re two individuals cursed to live the same eternal repetitive life and how they share a sense of company with each other based on their predicament initially as friends before it naturally blossoms into something more. The gimmick behind the story compliments what is a charming love story, and it only gets more interesting when a mystery starts to unravel with Margaret not wanting to become too romantically attached to Mark, and also seeming hesitant to even desire escaping the loop. With these ideas in play, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is not only a charming story with two characters that you get really invested in, but it also becomes a poignant love letter to life itself. Through their experiences and their own trials and tribulations, the film tells a strong message about the importance of moving forward and living in the moment. How our life experiences, the ones we love and befriend, and all the small moments that make life so special is what is crucial to living life to its fullest. There are aspects of life that are going to be difficult, but with friends and loved ones to help us through it, we can be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The film feels spectacular in this regard, and though it is a tad disappointing how the film does try to contextualise how the time loop functions near the end, it still works fine enough in a metaphorical context where nothing is ruined by the revelations towards the end. All of this as well is beautifully elevated by the performances of Kyle Allen and ESPECIALLY Kathryn Newton, who brilliantly captures both her character's cynicism, but also the more vulnerable side that opens up as everything progresses.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a wonderful film, pure and simple. Taking one of the most tired cliches in Sci-Fi, the film puts it under a refreshingly new context to deliver a charming romantic plot that isn’t without its fair share of surprises. There are many aspects to its story that could very well give audience members a new perspective on life and what makes it important to them. And when a film is able to impact you on that kind of euphoric level, it deserves commending. Give this one a look if you are up for something poignant this Valentines weekend.
FINAL RATING:- 9/10 (EXCELLENT)