I really really enjoyed this film. It may not have the pedigree or the cinematic artistry of News of the World, which I also watched this weekend. It’s never going to show up in the awards discussion or get hailed as an under seen gem and it won’t generate a cult following but I was utterly charmed by it and if you enjoy a) teen movies, b) fantasy conceits and c) bouncy indie pop soundtracks then this could be one for you too.
There’s nothing quite like a well executed teen movie. There is just something about a story where the characters have almost all of their lives ahead of them but the challenges of living that life are just starting to make themselves apparent. I don’t mean all of this to come across as patronising as it sounds coming from someone who is well past teenage himself but if you are young yourself then you can identify with the issues on screen and even if you’re not then you’ve been there so it still resonates. Very few of us have been gangsters, or cops, space adventurers, lawyers or superheroes but we’ve been kids and watching them is kind of inspiring no matter your age. This is why Booksmart, The Way Way Back, Easy A, Sing Street, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Me, Earl and the Dying Girl and The Kings of Summer are among my favourite films of the last ten years.
As suggested this one also has the non-realism aspects because these teens are trapped living the same day over and over again. This is going to be a familiar idea even to people who are not fans of classic 90s Bill Murray comedies as such varied movies as Happy Death Day, Edge of Tomorrow and the upcoming Palm Springs all use the same set up. On TV we’ve also had Russian Doll and loads of shows have a time loop episode in there somewhere. The X-Files did it, as did Buffy and Star Trek has done it at least twice. Knowing this is not a new notion, The Map of Tiny Pretty Things throws us straight in after the protagonist has been leaving on repeat for some time which is actually new and then, once he’s met someone else in the same circumstance, the two of them go about documenting all of those small special moments that feature in every day for someone somewhere, hence the title of the movie. This is a little schmaltzy but it is quite nice to see a film that celebrates the simple things and the small connections we make, especially now while we are all stuck in isolation in our own Groundhog Days. The film also explores some large relationship issues and amidst the gentle comedy it can be genuinely moving.
Kathryn Newton is great as Margaret; the whole dream theme of the movie making any suggestions of her being a manic pixie dream girl redundant. Kyle Allen is also strong and while she is already building an impressive filmography I am sure neither of them will find their careers stuck in a rut.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is on Amazon Prime and it is pretty much a tiny perfect thing itself.