I’ve been thinking about death a lot recently. I don’t think I’m the only one.
Through the last 12 months, we’ve been confronted by our mortality more than ever before, as well as being trapped in a constant groundhog day style loop of self-reflection. For myself, I’ve also recently been dealing with my own grieving process. Such personal introspective moments and feelings are hard to put into media, and yet just as recently as last year we saw a wave of films that seemed ‘just perfect’ for the moment the world found itself in. This year I am finding more and more films examining the process of loss and grief and dealing with these issues alone. Most recently? The Map of Tiny Pretty Things, which released this week on Amazon Prime.
(Major plot spoilers lie ahead)
Mark is an average teen who finds himself living an average summer day. Every day. Stuck in a time loop, he repeats the day over and over until he spots Margaret who appears to also be stuck in the same pattern. Eager to bond with the only other soul stuck in this predicament, the pair embark on a quest to find all the perfect things happening in their town on that day. As the pair grow closer, Mark wants to push their relationship and find a way out of the day, to start a future together. Margaret on the other hand is determined to stay put and disappears off at the same time every afternoon following a mysterious phone call.
We find out at the mid-point of the film just why Margaret wants to stay in the day. Her mother is sick, and Margaret spends the last hours of every day with her, saying goodbye for the final time, only to awake again every morning back on that final day. She explains to Mark that she just wished time would stop, and it did. It’s the ultimate wish of someone who has been recently bereaved; to just gain back a little more time. To relive those last moments, one more conversation, to touch them one more time. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is this pushed to the extreme, would you sacrifice your whole future to not lose your past?
Kathryn Newton has long been on my radar since I first spotted her in Bad Teacher and Big Little Lies and she once again excels, proving she is here to stay in the spotlight. Director Ian Samuels places his trust in her performance and the films score mixed by Fiona Cruickshank to sell these small and delicate moments that form the true heart of the film.
Newton’s chemistry with Kyle Allen as well as the wit and humour infused within Lev Grossman’s screenplay will be the things most noted by others, but it’s bittersweet melancholy sold the film as exactly the tonic I needed right now. It’s far from perfect, but perhaps it can remind us all to look for the tiny perfect things around us, and hug close the ones we love, just as Mark and Margaret learn.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is available to stream of Amazon Prime Video now
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