I was listening to an Empire magazine podcast about time loop movies recently, and they mentioned The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things (2021) as a film which is a rather lovely entry in the genre. Not long ago I’d seen Palm Springs (2020), another great time loop movie, and thoroughly enjoyed that. So the other day I thought, why not, if they think this one is good too, then let’s give it a go.
I have to say, Empire’s critics were spot on. The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things is a lovely bit of cinema, and indeed storytelling. We start with Mark (Kyle Allen), who immediately gave me young Richard Gere vibes. He’s stuck in a time loop. The film throws us into his day, and from the off it’s easy to tell that he’s done this scene a thousand times before. Yet the movie has fun with it, and wastes no time in hitting the time loop beats you’d expect, but still does so in a way that has a love of the genre. It leans into things seriously, yet playfully, if that makes sense?
To be honest, this approach gave me confidence. The filmmakers knew what story they wanted to tell, and quickly moved through the setup to get us to the good stuff. In this case, the ‘inciting incident’, as screenwriters like to call it, when Mark, thinking he’s the only one stuck in the loop, meets Margaret (Kathryn Newton). She’s also in the loop, but where Mark is jaded and bored with life and wants change and excitement, Margaret seemingly doesn’t want out, and initially actively avoids Mark.
The reasons become apparent as the story unfolds, but this movie is perhaps less about predicting where the plot is going to go, and more about enjoying the journey and how it gets there. Which in fact, mirrors the film’s theme, which is about enjoying life’s little details, or ‘tiny perfect things’. The cute moments that happen every day, and are there for us all to see, if we just slow down enough to appreciate them.
This reminded me, in some ways, of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013). Although with The Map of Tiny Perfect Things it does do some things I did not expect, in particular in the film’s final third, when perspective shifts from one character to another and we see the story in a different light. I appreciated this approach, as it did feel like it was trying to do things a little differently to others in these genres: namely, time loop, teen and romantic movies.
I’m not sure I’d describe this as a rom-com per se, more ‘a romantic indie time loop’ movie, if that’s allowed? Either way, I enjoyed it a lot. It’s sweet and lovely, and had good performances from its two leads, and I think it’s free to watch on Amazon Prime (in the UK) right now.
I give it 4/5.