‘The map of the perfect little things’: Amazon releases a surprising miniature of loops in time in a youthful key
One of the many messages that ‘The map of perfect little things’ sends to the viewer is that although you may not find a way out of a time loop that forces you to repeat the same day over and over againThere are often little coincidences, the perfect things that the title says. Unexpected serendipities, captivating moments of spontaneous and fleeting poetry that distinguish each of those clonic days from the previous one.
One of those hypnotic coincidences has occurred in our streaming billboards: a few weeks ago Movistar + recovered from the limbo of the premieres that could not be due to the pandemic the unprecedented and excellent ‘Palm Springs‘, a version of’ Trapped in Time ‘in the key of an outdated thirty-something comedy, as romantic as it is bitter. Fifteen days later, Amazon Prime Video proposes ‘The map of the perfect little things’, the same but lowering the age of the protagonists and giving it a more urban setting and less navel-gazing.
Although the unsuspecting viewer may think of evil practices and diabolical plagiarism, the truth is that films are not made that way, in a moment, and much less if Spanish distribution (and the crazy world of pandemics) comes into play. The film was shot in February last year from a story by Lev Grossman (also the film’s screenwriter) 2016, author of the book trilogy young adult which inspired the series ‘The Magicians’. The ‘Palm Springs’ project, however, had been around since 2018 and was initially a ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ story with no fantasy elements.
That is to say, it is a mere coincidence that ‘The map …’ talks about that they have coincided two looping movies so similar on the surface: ironic, self-conscious and with a romantic alibi. But there are more elements that distinguish them than those that unite them. Between the similarities, both are (luckily) to the point, and at least one of the two characters knows what the pod is about. In ‘Palm Springs’, Andy Samberg’s has gotten used to that life of continuous loop, and is settled in that eternal day until another person arrives by accident, in a resource (normality broken by a stranger) that is pure comedy romantic.
Two teenagers on an endless day
In ‘The Map …’, however, we have two 17-year-olds who meet and already know how it works that day (the strangers Kyle Allen and Kathryn Newton, two real finds). Together they will wander between clone days wondering why everything works this way, but finding tiny incentives in his temporary prison. They aren’t obsessed with breaking the loop, at least one of them, and we’ll find out why.
The adolescent dramedia costumes of ‘El mapa …’ are curious, because in reality is a more cerebral movie than ‘Palm Springs’ (or that of course ‘Trapped in Time’). The characters (like the viewer) know the rules of loops and do not bother to try to break them, as they did in ‘Palm Springs’. They quote not only the Bill Murray movie, but also ‘On the edge of tomorrow‘ Y ‘Doctor Who‘. They mention Stephen Hawking, theories about the fourth dimension and wormholes. They draw tesseracts like nothing.
That is to say, and again despite appearances, ‘The map …’ plays science fiction, but without going into the complicated terrain of a ‘Primer‘. The solution to your riddle is more emotional than mathematical, but along the way, we have brilliant dialogues about the concept of time, its impact on our lives and what it means to mature (or not be able to). With the resource of repetition, director Ian Samuels reaches moments as funny and original (the fabulous opening credits, the discovery of the “little things”) as emotional (the protagonist’s conversation with his sister, the story of Margaret).
The whole movie is full of great little ideas, in fact. For example, Allen’s character takes advantage of the loop to learn to draw superheroes, but ends up drawing Sisyphus, from Greek mythology, condemned to push a stone up a mountain over and over again, without end. And one of the shirts he’s wearing refers to a character from Terry Gilliam’s fabulous ‘The Heroes of Time’, who we could identify with him in a certain sense.
One after another, these references overlap, giving the story an entity, but without losing its lightness. Samuels and Grossman’s script are aware of the dark background of the story, but also of the possibilities of telling a youth romance in these terms, and the film remains brilliant and optimistic throughout his footage. Enough to constitute a great double program with ‘Palm Springs’, two proofs that although the synopses are repeated like infinite days, there are multiple details that differentiate them.