An ingenious play on the time loop mechanic, Palm Springs delivers an emotional character-driven drama on nihilism and timelessness in a year where time has felt nothing but relative.
Written by Andy Siara and directed by Max Barbakow, Palm Springs takes the traditional Groundhog Day formula and adds an interesting twist about acceptance and consequence.
With lead performances from Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, and accompanied by J.K. Simmons and Peter Gallagher, Barbakow tells a unique story where Sarah (Milioti) ends up in the same time loop that Nyles (Samberg) had been living in to the point where he has lost track of his life before.
Nyles and Sarah battle with the nihilism of life, discussing consequences and life’s inevitability, while Barbakow weaves an emotional tie throughout interlocking all characters and their relationships, making this short time-loop film become a portfolio of character drama.
Samberg and Milioti it must be said were perfectly cast. Samberg, known for his cartoonish, and witty music and acting, adds a childish playfulness that balances excellently with his more emotional moments.
Pairing that with Milioti who’s range should not be ignored. While many may know her from How I Met Your Mother, I would argue that her role in Palm Springs better relates to her stand-alone episode in the AppleTV show MythicQuest carrying the maturity and brilliant acting that Milioti can perform.
“Embrace the fact that nothing matters”
Though as the film enters its final sprint, its tiredness was noticeable. Introducing the theory of quantum physics, transforming Sarah from a stunted misfit to a Mensa genius was an interesting choice. While it is expected to suspend belief, it must exist within the realm of possibility, and as the laughter also dried up, as did my attention.
While I was warmed by both Samberg and Milioti, their undeniable chemistry creating fireworks across the Californian horizon, the unfulfilling conclusion instead reminded me more of the unfulfilling nature of life and proving the nihilistic mindset correct.
Palm Springs is a charming unique drama and its character moments are by far its biggest strength. It just needed to end on a note that tugged deeper on the heartstrings, rather than me Googling more questions afterwards.