In a blink and you might just miss it moment at the top of The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, a felt board message gets real: “The universe is big—it’s vast and complicated, and ridiculous.” And for one 17-year-old aspiring artist, it’s also currently stuck on repeat.
Stuck in a time loop for an indeterminate number of days, Mark (Kyle Allen, The Path) has been reliving the same summer day and seems to be the only person aware of this occurrence. He wakes up to the sound of his mom driving off for a long day at work and then joins his dad, Daniel (Josh Hamilton, Eighth Grade), and younger sister, Emma (Cleo Fraser, The Unicorn), in the kitchen for breakfast before setting out for a day filled with random moments that he can set his watch to.
Mark moves through his routine with relative ease—sometimes with the use of heavy machinery—and it seems fulfilling enough for him. However, all of that changes with the abrupt appearance at the local pool one morning by an unknown young woman, Margaret (Kathryn Newton, Freaky), who takes him by complete surprise—especially when it turns out that she’s also been experiencing the day on an endless loop.
Directed by Ian Samuels (Sierra Burgess is a Loser) and written (and based on his own short story) by Lev Grossman (The Magicians), The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a pretty fitting story for these times. While some days can feel like a never-ending loop, others still manage to put forth a sense of wonder and hope. And the film, through the characters’ search for random things that collectively make a day perfect, invites its audience to do the same: to recognize these moments and savor them. Watching Mark and Margaret find these little joys—from a turtle taking its time crossing the road to beautifully flowing leaves in a lake—is comforting and truly an unexpected delight.
Read the full review at ArtUNews.com.