Palm Springs (2020)

Palm Springs has finally landed on Amazon Prime in the UK and it was definitely worth the wait. A modern take on time loops, this film follows carefree Nyles (Andy Samberg) and troubled Sarah (Cristin Milloti) as they find themselves living the same day again and again and again. As Nyles has become used to the time loop life and enjoys it, Sarah is adamant to get out as soon as she can. Naturally, the two begin to bond due to their circumstance and a relationship blossoms. It’s a film that has garnered a lot of praise since its premiere and deservedly so. Directed by Max Barbakow from a script written by Barbakow and Andy Siara, Palm Springs is guaranteed to have you in stitches and in tears as we see how living the same day over and over can actually offer a different perspective on life.

The direction and nonlinear structure makes it different from your average Groundhog Day situation. The topic is actually quite dark as the protagonists cannot escape but Barbakow contrasts this with the idyllic setting of the Palm Springs desert. The nonlinear structure works perfectly with the plot and Barbakow isn’t afraid to let the audience piece everything together rather than spoonfeeding the plot bit by bit. Rather than leading the audience into the time loop, we’re already thrown in there immediately which makes it feel like a puzzle that we have to put together ourselves. It is this unpredictable nature that makes Palm Springs an entertaining watch as we really don’t know what the characters are going to do next even though we know what their day would be like.

Andy Samberg can always be relied upon to turn wonderful comedic performances and his turn as Nyles is no exception. Although Palm Springs is primarily a comedy, there are some brilliant dramatic moments in there as well, especially when Nyles has to decide whether he wants to stay in the time loop or attempt to get back to reality. Samberg’s carefree character quickly becomes affected by his growing relationship with Sarah as she finds herself stuck in the same loop. It is during these moments of inner turmoil that we really see how Nyles’ carefree persona is really just bravado as he has become complacent in this life. Samberg is well known for his comedic roles, mainly as Detective Jake Peralta on Brooklyn 99, however, this film marks a small step in drama at times and it would be interesting to see him take on more dramatic roles in the future.

Cristin Milloti has been building an interesting career to date spanning TV (How I Met Your Mother), theatre (Once) and film (The Wolf of Wall Street) but with Palm Springs she gets the leading role she needs to properly breakout. Milloti is absolutely wonderful as Sarah and showcases the character’s conflicted feelings perfectly throughout the film. The chemistry she has with Samberg is great and they work really well on building the jokes and making the film an enjoyable experience. We never feel that Sarah has to rely on Nyles to be saved, she looks to herself for the solution and proves to be more practical and reliable than Nyles is. This is because we are actually seeing the film through her eyes as we are introduced to the time loop through Sarah’s eyes.

JK Simmons is phenomenal as Roy, a man who Nyles accidentally introduced to the time loop life when the two were inebriated with alcohol and drugs. Set on hellbent revenge, he appears every so often to torture and kill Nyles knowing that the two of them will spawn again the next day. It’s great seeing Simmons take on interesting roles that allow him to become immersed in a character. After winning his Oscar, it would have been easy for him to take on leading man roles in blockbusters but Simmons has carried on doing the roles he is clearly passionate about and it really adds in excitement to the overall film as we anticipate his return in the film.

The soundtrack is one of the best parts of this film. With an eclectic mix of genres from a variety of decades including a brilliant use of Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting” which is used in the film’s climactic scene, the random quality of the soundtrack helps brings the absurdity of the film’s plot. A lot of period films incorporate music from their respective time period to help the audience get a feel for the sounds of the time, however, Palm Springs completely rejects this and refuses to allow its music choices to conform to this. We are not supposed to get a feel for its time and it is wonderfully unpredictable with tunes from Leonard Cohen and David Bowie.

Palm Springs proves to be an incredibly original take on a subject that has been done lots of times before. Despite the time loop making the repeated day a predicted experience, it is actually the film’s unpredictability that makes it exciting to watch. From the beautiful cinematography to the brilliant script, Palm Springs may only be an hour and a half but it makes the most out of every second and never puts a foot wrong.

What did you think of Palm Springs? Let me know in the comments below!

Palm Springs is available to watch on Amazon Prime UK now!

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