Time-loop stories are nothing new. From movies such as 12:01 (1993), Groundhog Day (1993), and Happy Death Day (2017), to television shows including The X-Files (‘Monday’), Xena: Warrior Princess (‘Been There, Done That’) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (‘Cause and Effect’), the idea of someone reliving the same day infinitum has become a well-worn plot device on both the big and small screen.
Traditionally in each story, one character finds themselves stuck on repeat, trying to figure out how to restart time, while all those around them are oblivious to the situation. It is a concept that everyone is now familiar with, and some have become bored of.
So, if you’re fed-up of reading about time-loop tales then you may wish to skip this review, as I’m about to talk about new movie, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things – a sci-fi rom-com, about two teens trapped in the same day. However, if you skip this review then you’ll miss out on me telling you why you should watch this movie.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a delightful picture, with heaps of charm and is most certainly a film to check out. It is available to stream on Amazon Prime (part of Amazon’s home-grown content) and is ideal for lockdown life – where most people already feel like they are living out the events of Groundhog Day.
Directed by Ian Samuels, and based on Lev Grossman’s short story of the same name, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things follows two strangers, Mark and Margaret, who find themselves repeating the same day. In the movie, the pair go through the motions, never quite understanding why they are caught in a time anomaly which resets itself at midnight.
With each 24-hour cycle serving up more of the same, and boredom on the horizon, Mark and Margaret start to search out the seemingly perfect, serendipitous moments in life which often go unnoticed. They find joy in the small things, rather than sweating the big stuff, and this becomes their focus for a while.
But the longer they are stuck in the loop, the more they become aware that things do need to change. Big decisions need to be made, a lot of soul searching has to take place, and they have to find a way to get out of today and into tomorrow.
At the beginning of this review, I noted how pretty much everyone on the planet is familiar with the concept of the time-loop. It really has become such an overused storytelling trope that we all know how these things are structured, and how the first act of the movie/episode is about setting up the premise.
What is refreshing about The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is that from the beginning of the movie, the time anomaly is already in place and both Mark and Margaret know about it. There’s no need to spend copious scenes lining up the repetition to come; the central characters are already living the same day and the audience is brought up to speed very quickly.
This gets the movie off to a strong start and cuts back on any monotony. What helps the film maintain its momentum moving forward is the likeable leads, who steer this picture throughout its 99-minute runtime.
With only a handful of supporting characters cropping up to offer a short reprieve, actors Kyle Allen and Kathryn Newton have a lot of scenes to get through in this picture, and not once do they drop the ball. They are extremely likeable, and as the story progresses, they are two characters that you want to see get together.
Neither character is more interesting than the other, neither is more intelligent or more attractive than their counterpart, and each becomes important to the narrative. This makes The Map of Tiny Perfect Things far more enjoyable than most of the dreck that masquerades as a rom-com these days, as the love element feels very believable.
There is some sadness along the way in this love story, but this adds depth to the characters and the movie, and ensures that by the time the film reaches its conclusion everything feels earned rather than forced. The time-loop scenario also introduces a couple of ideas which have emotional significance for the characters and their growing fondness for each other, and personally I found this rather interesting.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is an enjoyable movie from start to finish. There are plenty of things to like in the film, more than I expected, and more than I can go into without encroaching on spoiler territory, so I’ll simply say it gets a recommend from me.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things would have been a fun movie to watch any night of the week, but in light of the restrictions we are all facing, the film serves as a reminder to seek out the really important things in life. Find happiness from day-to-day, and in movies that will lift your spirits – like this one.