What is the story about?
Mark, a teenager, is stuck in a time-loop, living out the same day every day. One day, he comes across Margaret, a girl who is also stuck in the same conundrum. Befriending Margaret, Mark decides to create a map of the all the things that make the day perfect. As both of them bond, the desire to get out of the time-loop creates a rift between them. Will they forever be stuck in the time loop, or will fate get them beyond its shackles?
Thanks to the rise of OTT platforms in the past few years, there has been an explosion of content in the teen drama genre. The American "teen romance" genre, for instance, has evolved currently into a place where usually it's a euphemism for two damaged teen souls getting through life and facing the future together, before going off to college. Up untill the mid-point of The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, it seems as if director Ian Daniels is content with this template. Mark is someone who has gotten bored of living the same day over and over again, to the point where he knows exactly at what point people around him are going to behave in a particular way. Margaret is someone who is constantly learning how to drive. Together, they seem to be the kind of couple Netflix could've made a three-film franchise on.
But at the middle point, there's a subtle shift in the dynamics of Lev Grossman's screenplay, where the fun and games of mapping the time loop in the first half gives way to more questions: whether it is possible to get out from the time loop, but more importantly, whether there is a desire to get out of it. These two questions, deceptively simple at first, open up the entire film all of a sudden, as the film not goes into an exploration of adulthood, but also dives into the hold nostalgia has on our memories, and the difficult task of letting go of the past. It is in this half that this film transcends the limitations of genre to become a film relevant for millenials and people of all ages.
Both Kathryn Newton and Kyle Allen carry this film on the basis of their charm. Newton, in particular, shines as the film goes on, while Allen, with his bored expressions and weary body language at the start of the film, is good. Jermaine Harris is decent as Henry, Mark's friend. The rest of the cast is okay.
Music & Other Departments
Andrew Wehde's cinematography is decent. Tom Bromley's score is all right.
The first five minutes of the film, which show Mark second-guessing every move people around him are going to make, even as he goes about his day, is goofy and apt.
There's one minor grouse: the last 15 minutes seem to be rather drawn out.
Did I enjoy it?
I enjoyed this immensely.
Do I recommend it?
Yes. It's a really good film, and not just a Valentine's Day watch.