My husband discovered this Amazon Original Movie a few weeks ago while scanning desperately for something decent to watch. Upon my viewing of The Map of Tiny Perfect Things trailer (watch below) I liked what I saw but also got these hints of Nicolas Sparks vibes. Meaning, I feared the ending would be one of those she is dying of a terminal disease, or the time loop would separate them to alternate universes, or one of them wasn’t really there, or… well, something like that. Happily ever after, or even a remotely positive ending, seems to be antithetical to Hollywood these days, after all. But that is a rant for another time, perhaps. Anyway, I did what I rarely do: I Googled “does it have a good ending” and without spoiling how it ended, felt confident enough to give it a chance. I am SO glad I did!!
This is truly a hidden movie gem. I say “hidden” in that it was an Amazon Prime movie as opposed to a major theatrical release and stars no one with a high profile. I suspect that will change in time as the two young lead actors are quite remarkable. Released in February 2021, it is listed as a “science fiction romantic comedy-drama” and while that is a mouthful, the movie does have elements of all those genres. The film is directed by Ian Samuels, from a screenplay written by Lev Grossman based upon his short story of the same name.
Here is an official synopsis:
The film tells the story of quick-witted teen Mark, contentedly living the same day in an endless loop whose world is turned upside-down when he meets mysterious Margaret also stuck in the time loop. Mark and Margaret form a magnetic partnership, setting out to find all the tiny things that make that one day perfect. What follows is a love story with a fantastical twist, as the two struggle to figure out how — and whether — to escape their never-ending day.
It is such a rarity to find a movie with literally nothing objectionable. No swearing to speak of, no nudity, no drugs or sex, no horrible parents, no violence, no political or social posturing… just a sweet movie about two young people finding each other, but more significantly, discovering what is really important in life. Now, by this it may seem like a mere teeny-bopper, lightweight, high jinx movie. While that too would suit me just fine, to be honest, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is an incredibly deep and thought provoking movie. The key as to what makes it so remarkable is the delicacy of the writing. I never felt smashed over the head with a Meaning or Important Plot Point. The subtlety and outstanding wittiness of the script so brilliantly acted by the two leads utterly wow’d me.
Mark is played by Kyle Allen and Margaret by Kathryn Newton, both actors a handful of years older than the 17 year-olds they portray in the movie. This is important, IMO, as the sense of youthful innocence of an on-the-edge-of-adulthood person who is also maturing beyond his/her tender years by reliving the same day for an unknown period of time requires an actor with some maturity. I have never seen either of these two actors, but they seriously impressed me.
I could rave on and on but don’t want to spoil the experience by accidentally saying too much. I will add as a final point that I love how the writer never delves deep into the hows of the same day happening over and over. We are never even told how long it has been going on as the story starts well after the time loop began, the only hint that it must have been for a long time based on Mark’s actions. The why is revealed, but the story isn’t about the technicalities of the time loop. Normally this might bother me, however this story is all about the relationships, and not just Mark and Margaret’s love story.
Yes, time loop movies have been done a hundred times, Groundhog Day being my personal favorite. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things takes a fairly common story trope and makes it fresh and memorable. That is extremely difficult to do. Well done! This is a movie I highly recommend when in the mood for a “feel good” story.