Not a bad way to spend 98 minutes
THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS (2021)
Placing a time loop into a feature film has become a trend in recent years, and just the mere thought of the concept has grown tiresome. So after viewing the trailer and realizing what this film was about, it was safe to say that my anticipation to actually watch the film dipped quite a bit. But now after making it through The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, I must say it wasn’t a bad way to spend 98 minutes.
Director Ian Samuels (Sierra Burgess is a Loser) helms The Map of Tiny Perfect Things with a similar scope of a high quality teenage rom com. There’s an unrealistic brightness to the world they live in, but it works in this particular film. Editing wise the film has flaws, with many days not being tracked, so the events feel rapid and jarring as they rush onto the scene. Similar to the overly bright nature of the original To All the Boys I Loved Before, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things brings along a glow that reflects its bright attitude toward its characters and unrealistic narrative about falling in love. It’s not unique enough to immediately draw anyone's attention, but Samuels’ direction works within the appropriate setting.
Based on a short story by scribe Lev Grossman, the plot follows Mark (Kyle Allen) who is trapped in a loop of the same day for an unknown amount of time and has decided to perfect the day and do his best to make it a good(ish) day for everyone he encounters. That is until suddenly an unknown girl comes into the picture. Margaret is a much more secretive person than Mark, but as the two warm up to one another, their friendship blossoms into potentially something more. If there’s a major complaint to project about The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, it’s that the story is a little clunky, meaning the pace just feels off. While the theme of the time loop does usually deliver a fast representation of the same day over and over, amounting to an ungodly number. This resorts in several aspects of the film feeling rushed, when narratively with the days going by as fast as they do and with no accounting for, it may not actually be as fast as it seems. In fact, in one scene a character even mentions a "continuity nightmare" which we run into several times throughout and most critically in the following scene from that very quote.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
I found the acting to be great overall with newcomer (at least to me) Kyle Allen playing the lead and rising star Kathryn Newton playing his support. The two begin with some animosity, making their relationship an awkward one to watch, however the pair quickly become more and more friendly as the day repeats; making it go from awkward to an interesting watch as their chemistry is revealed. The two share the screen almost the entire film with minor characters placing minor influences on the duo's actions, namely Mark’s friend Henry, Mark’s father Daniel, and Mark’s teacher Mr. Pepper. The minor characters have a mixed appeal with several becoming meaningful characters as the story progresses and others being placed just to quite literally move the story along. None of the side characters spoil the chemistry of the leads, so once you get past the first wave of awkwardness, you’re golden.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
There's always a gimmick. For this film it's that when the clock strikes midnight the world around Mark literally melts away. As mentioned earlier, the film feels artificially bright, but that's not necessarily an issue, it's just a noticeable aspect of the film. The characters have an endless arrangement of clothing, with every day featuring a new look that matches their personalities. Beyond the gimmick, visually the film doesn't try to do anything crazy, it's just two teenagers making their infinite day the best they can make it.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
This film is composer Tom Bromley's second feature and there's a ton of promise in everything presented throughout the film via the score. There's a sense of wonder in most scenes with every day bringing new opportunities to the pair; alongside the wonder there are also impactful moments of solace. The film's score is loaded with quality indie titles that should grab the attention of a few that aren't fully aware of the indie scene.
At this point there should just be a genre exclusively for time loop features. Ian Samuels’ The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is in no way the best film to feature the loop concept, nor is it a film that’ll be remembered long after the initial viewing. However, even though the film may not take the premise and twist it into something supremely special, it ultimately is a worthwhile experience for a date night film.