Sunday, July 12, 2020

Palm Springs

Movie Name: Palm Springs
Year of Release: 2020
Director: Max Barbakow
Starring: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Peter Gallagher, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin, Chris Pang, Dale Dickey, Jacqueline Obradors
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8 

Synopsis and Review:
"Palm Springs" which made its debut in January at the Sundance Film Festival, has been greeted with glowing reviews, and has had its debut on the streaming platform Hulu. The film follows the story of Nyles and Sarah. We're introduced to Nyles at a wedding, where his somewhat vapid girlfriend is one of the bridesmaids. Sarah is the sister of the bride, and also one of the bridesmaids. Nyles manages to save Sarah from a somewhat awkward speech situation, and they both find themselves attracted to each other, and making out in the middle of the Palm Springs desert.
While in middle of the situation, there's an earthquake, which is quickly followed by someone shooting arrows at Nyles, who while trying to escape ends up going to a recently uncovered cave with a luminous glow. Trying to help Nyles, Sarah also comes into the cave, though he tells her to stay outside. Next thing they know, they're waking up on the same day and repeating it on a loop.
"Palm Springs" is the feature length directorial debut for Max Barbakow, following a series of shorts, the same going for its writer, Andy Siara. The film has the Harold Ramis/Danny Rubin's "Groundhog Day" concept in its DNA, but veers in a direction of its own. When we first are introduced to Nyles, he has already been trapped in the loop for quite some time, whereas for Sarah, as she goes down the rabbit hole, we realize the challenges that come with repeating the same exact day, and the consequences of mistakes that become dramatically more apparent. As Sarah becomes more familiar with the situation, with Nyles, his actions and adventures, they eventually grow close. But while Nyles somewhat nihilistic and defeatist stance on the topic wants them to stay put, Sarah struggles with this reality and wants to move past it. These two very different characters learn the meaning of love, of being selfless and less self-absorbed, as they truly look at each other for who they are, and not for the expectations they want each other to be. It's a very smartly written film, filled with humor, heart and a great cast that hits all the right notes. Andy Samberg is great as the central slacker who eventually grows up, whereas Cristin Milioti gives Sarah a range, an arc and ultimately a depth to her character, that is unlike your typical romantic comedy cliché, for its central heroine that is. J.K. Simmons and Peter Gallagher are as usual equally wonderful. The cinematography from Quyen Tran is beautiful. A wonderful surprise well worth watching.