The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
The highly anticipated Palm Springs is finally here; a film I very much needed and didn’t even know it.
Max Barbakow finds a good balance of humor and nuance in his feature debut. I love that the time and space continuum stuff doesn’t need to be completely answered. It’s all really simple and you don’t need to think about it too hard. The situational comedy mixed with the witty dialogue and jokes are what made me excited for my rewatch. The layout of Sarah and Nyles’ timelines is really efficient and keeps you engaged. It doesn’t feel as repetitive as you might expect. The character arcs are pretty much the main focus and that’s where the film really knocks it out of the park.
Written by Andy Siara, we first meet Nyles waking up in a hotel room to his girlfriend Misty getting ready for her friend’s wedding. At the reception, during the speeches, the bride’s sister Sarah, the apparent black sheep of the family, is called up to speak but she doesn’t have one prepared. Nyles jumps in and takes the speech away, covering her for the moment. They talk and drink all night, leading to them almost hooking up in the desert, when Nyles gets hit with an arrow. He and the camo dressed shooter run into a red glowing cave. Sarah tries to help by following Nyles as he gets sucked into the glow. Sarah gets sucked in too and wakes up in the morning realizing it’s the beginning of the previous day. Sarah confronts Nyles, who confirms they are indeed stuck in a time loop where they repeat the day of her sister’s wedding.
Nyles has been in this loop for a very long time, we’re not sure how long exactly, but enough to memorize the entire night of the wedding and use that to his advantage. He knows the consequences of running amuck and hurting people including himself. Yet, he is comfortable and willing to stay in the loop in order to avoid going back to the real world with consequences. Through Sarah’s trial in the loop it’s clear that she has many things to own up to and overcome and she would rather do that than be stuck in a purgatory state. As they grow more and more close, Nyles realizes he now has a partner in this weird little world and doesn’t want to leave it even more. The two find themselves falling for each other but have to make a decision later on that’s pretty much life or death.
It’s a great commentary on how easy you can get stuck in a mundane pattern that feels safe in order to hide from your choices.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg are a match made in time-trapped paradise. Their overall connection and chemistry is the basis of the story’s entertainment, despite all the cool sci-fi drama happening around them. I like it that way in that it feels more natural to each of their developments. I found a deep relation to both Nyles and Sarah in that it isn’t always easy facing adulthood when you’re already an adult. Cristin gives a very layered performance as we see Sarah go on this existential rollercoaster. We don’t get that with Nyles, since we meet him way after his transition, but Andy pulls off the beer chugging yet wise man exquisitely. JK Simmons is really great playing crazy Roy, giving a very complex performance that comes full circle as well.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
"...you will find something refreshing in this summery, dark comedy..."
Overall, the production design was lovely. I also enjoyed the pops of color in the costumes against the plain desert scenery. There are a couple scenes that remind you it’s a Lonely Island production through cheesy VFX, but I love it.
Palm Springs (2020) | HULU
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The soundtrack has a great mix of old and new songs, including Demis Roussos’ “Forever and Ever,” Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting,” and Chester Buster II’s “Turn it On,” but they all seamlessly play into the film’s dreamy Cali vibes. The awesome sound design was a major key in distinguishing moments in certain time loops and letting us know where we are, leaving us little surprises through every loop.
I really don’t know what else to say other than I highly recommend this movie. Especially if you like Groundhog Day and the Happy Death Day films, you will find something refreshing in this summery, dark comedy, streaming now on Hulu.