The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things (2021) Review
Lockdown seems to have proven to be fertile ground for GROUNDHOG DAY-style time loop comedies but it’s unlikely anyone had a lockdown experience as idyllic and blissful as THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS.
Mark (Kyle Allen) has been stuck in a time loop repeating the same day over and over again for so long, he’s perfected the timings to intervene in dozens of people’s days and prevent them from mishaps both major and minor. Mark believes himself to be alone until one cycle, his attempt to prevent someone falling into a swimming pool is interrupted by Margaret (Kathryn Newton), who prevents the accident instead. Realising she must be stuck in the same loop as he is, Mark finds his attempts to spend time with her frustrated by a secret she keeps – a secret which holds her back from wanting to end the time loop and return to a normal life.
Where GROUNDHOG DAY focussed its attention on the A CHRISTMAS CAROL-like redemption of its unlikeable protagonist, THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS has a very different message, one which perhaps has added relevance for the movie’s teen audience. Rather than correcting the course of a life poorly lived or encouraging the timid to ‘seize the day’, Ian Samuels’ film, based on Lev Grossman’s short story “Map” and adapted for the screen himself urges its characters and audience to slow down and smell the roses. The unexpected benefit of repeating the same day over and over again is the chance to notice all the little things which happen, often unheralded, in the course of a normal day. Tiny, seemingly inconsequential moments, that nevertheless possess beauty or the potential for beauty with the tiniest of nudges in the right direction.
The beauty of the every day is a strong theme in THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS, a story which also deals with issues of regret, loss and the reluctance to move beyond a point where things are as they are now. Kyle Allen makes for a likeable lead but its in Kathryn Newton that the movie finds its heart and philosophical soul. It’s through Margaret and his evolving feelings for her that Mark reassesses his time before and dring the loop and in sharing the creation of his map with her that leads them both down a new and better path to their theoretical tomorrow.
While there’s no real explanation for the cause of the anomaly, THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS is more explicit than most other movies in its genre when it comes to the scientific basis for how to resolve things, involving a cinematic tesseract which is articulated with far greater fluency than INTERSTELLAR managed to do.
Poignant, poetic and dreamily romantic, THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS offers a tranquil and reflective oasis of calm; an unexpectedly welcome reminder that it’s the little things that matter and that while we’re overwhelmed by the big things, it’s all too easy to overlook them.