director: Max Barbakow (mommy, I'm a bastard!)
starring: andy sandberg, cristin milioti, J.k. simmons and Camila Mendes
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Stuck in a time loop, two wedding guests develop a budding romance while living the same day over and over again.
The best kind of movies are the ones you are unprepared for, the cinematic gems that you’re unprepared for and just fall unexpectedly into your lap. Palm Springs is one of those rare movies that takes the tired genre of romantic comedies and turns it on its head with a splash of time loop and a dash of two superb leads.
On November 9, Nyles wakes up next to his girlfriend Misty on the wedding day of Tala and Abe. At the reception, he delivers a seemingly impromptu speech, to the relief of Tala's sister, the drunk and unprepared maid-of-honor Sarah. Nyles and Sarah bond and, after discovering Misty cheating on Nyles, are about to have sex when Nyles is abruptly shot in the shoulder with an arrow by an older man named Roy. Wounded, he crawls toward a mysterious amber light in a nearby cave, warning Sarah not to follow. Sarah, curious, is sucked into a vortex in the cave.
Sarah wakes up, again, on November 9. After she confronts Nyles, he explains that she has become stuck in the same time loop as him. As Sarah unsuccessfully attempts many escape methods, such as driving back to her hometown or suicide, her and Nyles grow closer while trying to leave the time loop for good.
The premise of Palms Springs appears to be so bonkers that you either need to really suspend belief or be inebriated to truly believe it. But the construction of the film’s narrative and film making is so top notch that it doesn’t really take a lot to believe the premise anymore than Jurassic Park made us believe you could bring dinosaurs back or that Middle Earth is a real place.
The filmmakers also use the time loop premise to their advantage narratively to tell Nyles and Sarah’s backstories and also for comic relief as well (the dinosaurs were an inspired choice). It really works well as a time loop film but also as the most unromantic romantic rom com you ever will see.
The rom com has been done every which way but never like you’ll see in Palm Springs. It’s funny, it’s a bit lustful but it’s one of the best ‘real’ rom coms I’ve seen. Past mistakes, regrets, and the sometimes same same nature of long term relationships are all some of the many themes explored. The scene with J.K. Simmon’s Roy and Niles near the end of the film is particularly beautiful in all of its mundane poignancy.
Adam Sandberg is brilliant and is....Adam Sandberg in this film. But the loud, says inappropriate stuff that gets him in trouble but is actually super sweet is perfect for this film and to play opposite Cristin Milioti as well. Her earnestness, vulnerability and hilarity are all on display and I can’t remember a better screen couple this year. They are just brilliant together.
Palm Springs is unlike any time loop, rom com heck any movie that you’ve seen and you cannot miss it.