In Max Barbakow’s feature film, “Palm Springs,” he explores the concept of the “time loop,” while also seamlessly tying in deeper messages about life throughout the course of the movie. The film made its debut in January at the Sundance film festival, receiving high praise all around. After its official release on the streaming site Hulu, the movie created buzz once again as it began trending on twitter. I knew then that I had to watch it and judge for myself if it was worth the hype. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to watch this film, but one thing is certain–it did not disappoint.
“Palm Springs” follows the seemingly normal day of Nyles (played by Andy Samberg), as he attends a wedding. The day slowly plays out and we are introduced to more of the characters, such as the bride’s older sister, Sarah (Cristin Milioti). Nyles and Sarah meet and quickly form a bond that leads to an intimate moment in the desert near their hotel. But, after an odd chain of events, it is revealed that Nyles has been stuck in a time loop the whole time. How long he has been in this time loop is unclear, but the effects on his personality are more easily noticeable. His aloof and go-with-the-flow attitude seem to be the result of living the same day over and over again. When Sarah finds herself stuck in this time loop as well, she has a much different reaction. She tries to exit the cycle, but finds that she truly is stuck for good. With this in mind, she begins to spend more time with Nyles doing hilariously absurd things, simply because they can. Along the way the two cross paths with a man named Roy (J.K. Simmons), who has vowed to get revenge on Nyles for bringing him into the time loop after a night of partying together turned bad. Without giving too much away, this streak of reckless behavior does not last. Sarah comes to the conclusion that she doesn’t want to live in the loop forever, so she makes a plan to exit. Nyles finds comfort in Roy, who gives up on his plot of revenge after realizing that he is wasting his time being angry when he could be focusing on the positives of the situation instead. In the end, Sarah and Nyles go through with her plan, knowing that no matter what happens they want to stay together.
Unlike most romcoms, this movie focuses very little on the kind of romantic love that most of us are used to seeing in this genre of movie. Instead, Barbakow chose to take a humorous approach to discussing more serious topics such as feeling trapped in our lives and the importance of finding joy in what we have. He created two endearingly flawed main characters, played quite convincingly by Samburg and Milioti, who embody the theme of the movie so incredibly well.
“Palm Springs” showcases how the mistakes we make can loom over us if left ignored. But it also serves as a reminder that each day brings an opportunity to be better, and to fix our past
mistakes. Despite all of life’s ups and downs, there is always the possibility of a fresh start tomorrow.