Although it premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, when we had not yet made the words ‘confinement’ and ‘pandemic’ our daily bread, ‘Palm Springs’ is one of the films that best tunes to the present moment: a story in which the days repeat themselves in an eternal cycle, where the feeling of confinement moves between overwhelm and madness, and philosophical questions about the meaning of life emerge at the most surprising moments. And besides, she’s incredibly funny and charismatic. A balance that makes it one of the essential premieres of the year.
The film, directed by newcomer Max Barbakow and written by Andy Siara, takes us to a wedding in a luxurious Californian villa surrounded by a desert setting, where we find Nyles ( Andy Samberg ), who is dragged to the ceremony by his girlfriend, with which he maintains a relationship in decline, and whom we see plunged into a deep nihilistic crisis. Wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a can of beer in hand, he meets Sarah ( Cristin Milioti ), the sister of the bride and maid of honor, who tries to drown a suffocating sense of regret in her glass of wine. They both connect, laugh and end up making out on a rock somewhere near the party.
However, the truth behind those airs of ‘The Twilight Zone’ that we had been noticing is uncovered: after an unexpected attack, Sarah will follow a badly injured Nyles to a strange cave, where she will be sucked and thrown at the same time and place where she is he had woken up that morning. Wow, she’s stuck in a time loop where she’ll have to repeat her sister’s wedding over and over again. Nyles, on the other hand, has been trapped in this limbo for possibly millions of repetitions, which explains his foolish attitude in a celebration that the poor man already knows by heart. Only now, for the first time, you won’t have to suffer it alone.
‘Palm Springs’ is still a film regarding the crisis of the 30s and the difficulty of finding meaning in life while you are still finding yourself. Both Nyles and Sarah face not only an unusual situation but also a time in their lives in which they must forge their own paths towards adulthood that was taking hold of them. He represents the eternal pattern of ‘man-baby’ who refuses to grow up (a classic in Samberg), while she proves that she hasn’t Overcome certain aspects of his life, constantly comparing himself to his sister’s seemingly insurmountable goodness. They are imperfect human beings struggling to leave behind what continues to drag them to the same unhappiness.
Consequently, it is a film about the weight of loneliness, and about how monotonous life can be better spent in good company. Emphasis on ‘good’.
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