A Time-Loop Story for Young Adults
“The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” is on the surface about taking notice of the minuscule details that are usually missed in the chaos of daily activity. The film follows Mark (Kyle Allen) and Margaret (Kathryn Newton) as they are trapped in a time loop reminiscent of the premise of “Groundhog Day,” (1993). The premise may be a little tired as the repeating day trend has been done time and time again. The theme of such movies is usually as follows, the character must work through a flaw, and only then will they be able to progress to the next day. “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” isn’t anything new. It’s a teen feel-good rom-com with all the tropes one would expect. But it has the added benefit of knowing all that, and in doing it well.
Mark is afraid of what the future holds. This is reflected by the fact that the day he is trapped in is when his father sits him down to discuss how he won’t be able to go to art school. So Mark spends his newfound infinite time avoiding his father, going to a swimming pool to fail at seducing his crush, and playing videogames with his best friend. The day may be stuck in a loop but Mark may as well be too. That is until he meets Margaret.
One day while at his usual spot at the swimming pool, she appears. Throwing off his carefully perfected routine. He spends the next several days trying to track her down. When he does, they begin a tentative friendship. From there they set out on their quest to locate all the tiny perfect things. They theorize that once this is done, they will be able to continue on with their lives. “Seize the day,” as Mark puts it.
The film could have come off as nothing more than a cheesy-feel-good movie, but there are subtle and truly heartfelt moments that take it beyond that. One of which encapsulates the meaning of the movie. Every morning Mark blows past his family having breakfast, and each morning his sister calls him a loser as he passes through. It can be written off as nothing more than average familial contention. However, one morning he decides to take a seat at the table and spend some time with them. He expects the usual name-calling from his sister, but it doesn’t come. No particular focus is given to the interaction. It is left up to the viewer to infer that the reason his sister called him a loser was perhaps because he wasn’t paying any attention to her, and now that he is, she has no reason to.
The premise may be centered around the concept of stopping to smell the roses, but what really propels it to a higher level is that it then confronts the idea that eventually, you have to move on. Mark will have to face his future, and Margaret has her own demons to contend with. In the end, what makes the tiny perfect things worthwhile is not that they come with any predictability, but that if you open up your eyes, you just might be surprised by what you see.