3.5 out 5 stars
Most people would be willing to admit that the little things in life really make a difference, if you notice them at all. Joy can be found in the innocent gurgle of a baby’s laugh, the gentle touch of a lover’s hand, the familiar smell of your pillow after a long day or merely the calming effect of the gentle rain on a peaceful evening. Whatever these moments are in our lives, it can be said that each adds another piece of the puzzle to what it is to be human.
This is the message behind the collaborated work of director Ian Samuels and screenwriter Lev Grossman. This team manages to build on the familiar time-loop model used in Groundhog Day and the recent Palm Springs. Yet, works to provide a heartwarming twist that makes this tiny little film perfectly enjoyable.
Like most teen dramas, this one begins with Mark (Kyle Allen) waking up in his bed as his mother heads off to work. Reminiscent of Ferris Bueller, the teenager has an over-confident spring in his step as he manages to manoeuvre through his morning routine with relative ease and familiarity. Each moment seems to be choreographed down to the second. He works to play the good Samaritan and resident psychic roles in the lives of his family and community as he joyfully walks through his day.This all seems a bit odd until he makes his way through the window of his best friend, Henry (Jermaine Harris). It is at this moment that we are let in on the secret of Mark’s life. He has been caught in a quantum time loop and is inexplicably experiencing the same day repeatedly.
Each day he tries to find out the reason for his predicament. But in the meantime, he does all he can to make the most of this unique situation. Until the day he meets a girl named Margaret (Kathryn Newton), who seems to be continually experiencing the same day as Mark. Once they meet and eventually become friends, the two begin to enjoy this innocent hedonistic adventure together. As their relationship deepens and each shares more about each other's lives, things start to change. They both begin to consider what they can do to make this situation better or potentially come to an end. This leads them to map all of the tiny perfect moments in their community, which allows them to discover more about themselves and motivates them to move on with their lives.
This narrative-style has become all too familiar in cinemas over the past few decades. Some have been done well, while others feel more like the purgatory waiting room in Beetlejuice. Mercifully, The Map of the Tiny Perfect Things is more like the former, even though it may worry some people that it is wrapped up in a teen drama. Any concerns about the mashing together of these two genres are unwarranted. This unconventional journey does prove to be rewarding. Due to the wonderfully written characters and their relationship's simplicity, this manages to take audiences on a quantum adventure with a recognisably fresh spin. Kyle Allen and Kathryn Newton provide the chemistry and mystery needed to make their relationship believable and charming. Viewers will want this couple to come together. Still, there is no way of knowing the outcome, unless you are an overly committed and devoted romantic.
Lev Grossman’s script does engage with the existential elements found in many other films from the past. Yet, it does manage to do it without unnecessarily utilising violence, foul language and sex as the primary means of moving the screenplay forward. Instead, he manages to masterfully weave in discussions of grief, loss, happiness, selfishness, love, care and mercy without causing all of these elements to weigh down the story. To keep this lighthearted while engaging with some of life’s more significant questions is no small feat. Even though it had the potential to become a mess by the end, the production team manages to bring things together beautifully, despite leaving some things open to interpretation.
This film project proved to be a bit of a tiny surprise. It is a tale that will make you think, contemplate life, while satisfying your romantic side and even causing a few tears to be shed. Most importantly, it will do the very thing it promises in its title, by encouraging us to come away appreciating the small things of this existence. Hopefully, challenging all to cherish each one as a gift.
Reel Dialogue: A personal note
This tiny perfect map may not go down as a classic and may be slotted in with all of the other time-loop films of this era. Still, it was impressive. It proved accessible and thought-provoking at the same time. Cutting that fine line between sweet and challenging allows viewers to consider all they have in this life and to reach out to embrace the ones they love.
Interestingly, the film does not mention God, but all it did was make me think about him. It moved me to be thankful for all I have been given by him in this life. My family, health, home, and salvation are just the beginning of my personal map of perfect things. This silly little young-adult movie made me love my God even more. Encouraging me to say thank you, Jesus. Thanks for the small and big things you have given me, especially your love, sacrifice, and the promise of eternal life. My God is what makes these things perfect and I am grateful for each of them.
Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20