Palm Springs: Film Review

Palm Springs

I have been wanting to see Palm Springs for a really long time. Critics have been raving about it ever since Sundance Film Festival 2020 and now I’ve finally been able to see it for myself, and thankfully, it lived up to the hype and matched my expectations.

The film is set on November 9th in Palm Springs, California at the wedding of Tala (Camila Mendes) and Abe (Tyler Hoechlin). Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the bride’s half-sister, forms a bond with Nyles (Andy Samberg) after he makes an impromptu speech to rescue her in her drunken state. As they’re about to hook up, Nyles is shot by an arrow fired by Roy (J.K. Simmons) and crawls into a cave wounded. He urges Sarah not to follow but curiosity gets the better of her and she is sucked into a vortex and wakes up on the morning of 9th November once again, something Nyles has been doing for a very long time.

The concept of Palm Springs is fantastic. It’s refreshingly original and provides rich opportunities for comedy. Sure, time loop films have been done plenty of times before, with movies like Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow springing to mind, but the beats in Max Barbakow‘s feature directorial debut feel totally unique; they haven’t been borrowed from what’s come before. Plus, the whole vibe of the film feels very different – it’s fun, irreverent, and extremely silly and a mix of science fiction and romantic comedy.

More often than not, films with an amazing premise usually fail in the execution or the idea can’t sustain a feature and it runs out of steam, but thankfully, this isn’t the case with Palm Springs. The film is wisely only 90 minutes long so it doesn’t outstay its welcome and it maintains the zippy momentum it kicks off with so you’re never wishing it would wrap up. The screenplay by Andy Siara is really clever and I like how the relationship between Nyles and Sarah evolves and how we slowly get to learn more about the time loop as Sarah does, since she’s our eyes into that world.

Samberg is known for his comedy skills so he easily commands those scenes but he impressed me with the more emotional work he has to do later when he realises Sarah wants to leave the loop he’s grown comfortable with as life has no meaning and he can be carefree. Even though he’s good, Milioti is the revelation here. She’s extremely funny but she also tackles this darker side of Sarah, who makes bad choices and despises herself for them. Their chemistry was excellent and watching them play off each other – particularly in the early scenes when they’re simply enjoying the time loop together – made me smile a lot. Simmons is as reliable as ever as Roy, who seems menacing until you get to know him better. I also want to point out that Peter Gallagher (Sandy from The O.C.) is in this nowhere near enough.

It amazes me that this is Barbakow’s debut – he has just nailed it with a film that is really tricky to get right. Palm Springs made me very happy and I want to watch it again. Definitely check it out!

On Amazon Prime Video from Friday 9th April

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: