Palm Springs follows Nyles and Sarah, two strangers who meet at Sarah’s sister’s wedding and end up in a time loop, reliving the same day over and over.
The premise of the movie is very simple and that’s why it works. The premise allows the writers to build on it and create an out of the box story and creative ways to tell said story. It also allows for comedy as the situation in and of itself is absolutely ridiculous. (In a good way.)
Given the structure of the story, the movie is anchored by two people, Andy Samberg who plays Nyles and Cristin Milioti who plays Sarah. The two of their characters serve different purposes, one of them being the audience surrogate while the other delivers exposition. And this is one of those times that spoken exposition makes sense as Sarah needs things explained to her.
That being said, there are more to these performances that meet the eye. They’re surprising deep which given the story is both expected and unexpected. It’s also a bonus that you have likeable actors with chemistry even though their characters aren’t likeable people, which goes in the plus column for me. Following happy-go-lucky people, while they are stuck in a time-loop would get a little boring no?
Apart from our main actors, there are so many more recognizable people. JK Simmons (who is always a win in my opinion), Camila Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin and Peter Gallagher. Of all these actors and the characters they play, JK Simmon’s Roy is a scene-stealer. And that isn’t to say that the other factors are bad, it’s just that JK’s character story combined with his performance is a massive win.
What I’m about to say, might sound strange but I’m happy the movie didn’t explain the origins of the time-loop or why Nyles gets stuck in there. It drops you right in the middle of the story which sometimes doesn’t work but in this instance it does. That is one of the things that makes it funny.
Interestingly enough when I was researching this movie to write this review, I found out that it’s technically a sci-fi. And while the genre description makes sense, the movie doesn’t feel inherently like a sci-fi. It feels more relatable than that. And that is a testament to director, Max Barbakov and writer Andy Siara. This movie isn’t necessarily a character study, but it does focus more on the characters than it does the story. It also poses an interesting question, what would happen if you were stuck in a time loop? I would probably end up like Nyles.
This is one of those movies with really understated Set Design, and by that, I mean that nothing is meant to stand out to you. It takes place in Palm Springs and looks like it does. Except for some CGI in a cave, the movie a whole is visually unassuming, especially given its genre description.
I will say though, that I am a big fan of the establishing shots and landscape shots.
This movie is more soundtrack driven than score driven and I really liked that. A lot of the songs were not familiar to me but the fact that I went out to go and find out what songs laid during the movie is always a win for me. The soundtrack is very reminiscent of the summertime, with songs that make you want to host a pool party or barbecue (which we WILL NOT BE DOING ANYTIME SOON, but one can dream right?)
When this movie was released last year. I saw a lot of positive reviews on Instagram and I 100% agree with those reviews. Apart from its original premise and likeable cast, Palm Springs is funny without being too pretentious or in your face about it. It’s also a little existential? And that was something I wasn’t expecting going into it. And in a time when every day can feel the same? I relate a lot to the characters
Originally published at https://www.thecinematicaficionado.com on January 17, 2021.