Palm Springs (2020)

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The plot follows Niles (Andy Samberg) who is stuck in a time loop during a wedding in Palm Springs, and he is trapped for so long that he doesn’t even remember what he was doing before it happened. The plot arises when he approaches Sara (Cristin Milioti), the maid of honor at the wedding and the black sheep of the bride’s family. After saving her from a disastrous toast, Niles draws Sarah in with his chronic nihilistic views that nothing really matters, and their friendship is cut short in a surreal way…

Niles finds himself in a repetitive loop that he doesn’t enjoy too much – far from home, surrounded by strangers, with the sensitive drama of a wedding to take place. Day after day he wakes up in the same bed, when he wakes up he hears the same sounds and everyday life becomes so unpleasant that he finds a way out in alcohol. If he tried to explain to someone what was happening to him, no one would believe a stranger who was talking about anything, so Niles is reminded every day that he is essentially alone.

After all this time, Niles has found freedom in the fact that whatever he does doesn’t really matter because everything restarts after he sleeps. His days become reckless fun without consequences because the next day no one will remember him or what he did. However, it’s clear that you can’t have fun forever because what’s left when you’ve done everything you want? Niles finally becomes unhappy because there is no way to escape the loop, not even by dying.

The atypical romantic story between Niles and Sara is based on the fact that outside the loop they probably wouldn’t have time for each other, while in it they have no one else and have all the time in the world. Niles became a cynical guy who didn’t see the purpose of this life until he found someone to share it with. Sara is angry, scared and realizes that there is no escape, but over time she accepts that none of that matters and that it is best to have fun while she can. We follow how her combination of knowing freedom and despair eventually becomes the same as it probably was with Niles a long time ago.

The comedy lies in Niles’ very relaxed approach to something so unexpected and inexplicable, as well as his interactions with Roy (J.K. Simmons), a party guest whose drinking spree with Niles doesn’t end in the best way. I liked that the authors do not deal with scientific explanations of how the portal was created and the like, but the emphasis is on philosophical questioning of the meaning behind it all and uncomfortable topics such as the purpose of life.

As the film progresses, we follow whether there is anything normal or meaningful about the relationship that was formed and takes place under such circumstances. The authors explore this on an intimate and existential level, and they do so thoughtfully and intelligently. There’s a steady chemistry between the main cast that underlines their conflicted feelings – while Samberg is charmingly sarcastic, Miliotti brilliantly presents a combination of comic reactions and deep pain at what’s happening to her, though we’ll all agree that JK Simmons steals the show.