February 9th, 2021
MOVIE: THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS
STARRING: KYLE ALLEN, KATHRYN NEWTON, JOSH HAMILTON, CLEO FRASER
DIRECTED BY: IAN SAMUELS
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
There’s been a recent trend of Groundhog Day style of movies. Happy Death Day, Happy Death Day 2U, Palm Springs, See You Yesterday, Before I Fall, and now The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. No matter how played this narrative may get, if they keep being this inventive, smart, and delightful with the concept I don’t seem to mind. Ian Samuels new film is not a morbid outlook at the scenario, where death is the only option, or the cycle becomes a painful reality to be stuck in, but instead a romantic experience. It’s a story of boy meets girl, only these two are reliving the same day over and over again together. Everyone else around Mark (Kyle Allen) and Margaret (Kathryn Newton) is not aware of this anomaly of time. Instead of re-doing things over and over again, the two of them create a bond, and look to find the simple beauty they see in everyday living. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things may be repeating the same day over and over again, but with a movie this charming, it’s impossible not to enjoy repeating it all with them.
Since there have been multiple iterations of these kinds of stories, it helps when the director tries something different to separate it from the others. Here, Samuels begins the story in what we can assume is many days already repeated, with Mark walking into the kitchen, cutting off his Dad (Josh Hamilton) because he knows what he’s going to ask him, and insulting his sister Emma (Cleo Fraser) before she can even sling her sibling mud. Mark catches a coffee mug before it falls off the table, answers a crossword clue for his dad, and away we go with one continuous shot of Mark riding his bike down the street. Along the way he predicts when a sprinkler will go off, hands a jogger a cliff bar, and gives directions to someone lost. He knows it all and with a rube goldberg style sequence of moments, we get the point that this kid has been stuck in this day for a long time.
The screenplay is written by Lev Grossman, based on his own short story, and although the narrative has a light approach to it, what makes The Map of Tiny Perfect Things work so well are the two bright faced leads. Newton, who already made an impact with the body switch film Freaky, has the perfect laid back, I don’t want to be bugged approach to the character. She has a hard shell, but when Mark and Margaret realize they are the only two people reliving this day, it is Mark and the endless charm of Kyle Allen that wears us all down. Allen is a new face to me and his work here is delightful. Tall and blonde, not overwhelming in his kindness, but not a pushover as well. And around these two, as they start to find more beauty in the world around them, it’s impossible not to hope that things head in the romantic direction.
It’s not all that simple though. As Mark and Margaret go on with each day, they begin to concoct a map of the town they live in, complete with checkpoints for where delightful things will happen. Two kids lighting up their tree house, a female skateboarder showing up the boys, looking for a lost dog, and enjoying a delicious dinner meal. But both know the consequences of becoming romantically involved. It’s not that easy and for some reason, Margaret seems to disappear from Mark at the end of the nights, not seeing him again for a couple days. The repeated day goes on and the narrative balances the two figuring out why they are stuck, while also navigating if they can truly love each other living this way.
The ending of The Map of Tiny Perfect Things has a bit of cheesiness to it, for some that will work, for me it felt too predictable; And still, I was incredibly charmed by it all, especially the laid back and romantic chemistry of Newton and Allen. Similar to how Spontaneous was a major surprise last year, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is an unexpected and welcomed joy in 2021. I was happy to watch a movie that knew how to tug on the heartstrings and keep the repeating day theme still fresh. Here’s a movie that has it all mapped out.
THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS IS PLAYING ON AMAZON PRIME FRIDAY FEBRUARY 12TH
Written by: Leo Brady