The Map of Tiny Perfect Things review – offbeat and charming a fidelity investment

February 11, 2021
M.N. Miller 0
Amazon Prime, Film, Film Reviews
3

Summary

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a mixed bag, but does have an offbeat charm that’s unpretentious and welcoming.

3

Summary

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a mixed bag, but does have an offbeat charm that’s unpretentious and welcoming.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things isn’t wholly original; there are a plethora of timeline loop films out there, though I have rarely seen one that combines ongoing adult fare with this science fiction trope. What draws you in immediately is the skipping of the usual setup and the viewer discovers the protagonist’s ambivalence isn’t any type of teen angst, but he is stuck in the endless repetitive nature of his life, which is a strange feeling for a teenager that usually holds dear the cliché that every day for teenagers is filled with endless possibilities in which each day should be as different as the next.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is based on Lev Grossman’s adapted screenplay of his short story of the same name. The secret to a good time loop film is to fit it into a genre that has an interesting angle. Grossman’s story attempts to get there, but this being a short story, conventional movie rules tend to fill the gaps here. His script could have explored the themes of life that make it worth living and the firsts that come with that in a teenager’s life. Even the fragile nature of life itself explored through a teenager’s eyes would have been refreshing.

Unfortunately, the film never touches on those aspects without a deep exploration. Growth, development, and psychology are often forgotten in films like this. This is a time of fidelity. Teenagers begin to question their identities and the confusion that comes with them. Here, like many YA-novels, the adolescents are too mature and wise beyond their years. Instead, it focuses on the conventional and trying to figure out the mystery and allure of a young, possible romantic connection.

Yet, both these teens’ hormones should be full blast, and the time loop makes STDs and teen pregnancy a thing of the past. So, are we to believe these two 17-year-olds would rather play make-believe moon landings instead of, uh, getting rid of their blue moons?

Of course, this film has its audience and what do you expect with its genre trappings? Director Ian Samuels’ (Sierra Burgess Is a Loser) film has a freshness about it that is endearing. Kyle Allen’s Mark has the likeability and contemplative earnestness of young Joseph Gordan-Levitt. It will be hard for many not to fall for his charms, even though Katherine Newton’s Margaret needs a dozen repetitive hang-outs to see it. Newton has little trouble playing this role and brings some much-needed vibrant energy to the role of a girl who won’t let him in and is carrying a secret (another YA-cliché). She is, at times, luminous.

We talked about finding an interesting angle for a time loop film, and the same applies to young adult storytelling. For instance, Words on a Bathroom Wall folded the delicate issue of mental health into the lives of individuals who have little control of what’s going on with them. A film that came out the same month, Chemical Hearts, is only interested in… being a young adult movie.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things does a bit of both and with mixed results. It’s too long but does have an offbeat charm that’s unpretentious and welcoming. It has a walk and talk scene that I quite enjoyed that was lyrical. Sure, it’s melodramatic, but not in a way that completely overtakes the film and remains true to its genre, nor is it as repetitive as I’m sure many will make it out to be. It manages to have grounded themes about family and the fragile nature of relationships. For those reasons, it’s a marginal recommendation that is strictly for fans of the genre, nothing more.

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