The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things is a 2021 science fiction romantic comedy-drama that premiered on Amazon Prime. It stars Kathryn Newton and Kyle Allen, and it is based on the novella of the same name by Lev Grossman.
The film follows Mark, a teenager contentedly living the same day in an endless loop who gets his world turned upside-down when he meets Margaret, a girl who's also stuck in the time warp. What follows is a love story with a fantastical twist, as the two struggle to figure out how and whether to escape their never ending day.
This film provides examples of:
- Arc Words: The word "broken" gets thrown around a lot, either in relation to time itself not working, the world or life in general.
- Big Damn Kiss: Mark and Margaret kiss near the end of the film, this perfect moment being the final part of the 4-D cube and the thing that breaks the time loop.
- Bittersweet Ending: Margaret says goodbye to her mother for the final time before she passes away, but she's learned to accept that reality and face the pain head on instead of running away from it. She ends the loop with Mark, have gotten together and return the missing dog to their owner.
- Black and Nerdy: Mark's friend Henry, who's apparently video game obsessed.
- Boredom Montage: The movie starts with one, as Mark has been going through the loop for some time and is trying find new things to do.
- Couple Theme Naming: Mark and Margaret have the same first three letters in their names.
- Deadpan Snarker: Both Mark and Margaret are fairly witty.
- Drives Like Crazy: Margaret shows little concern for the rules of the road. Seeing that she's in a time loop, she doesn't have to worry about killing herself or anyone else.
- Margaret seems unusually unconcerned about ending the loop, stating she wishes time would stay broken forever. She also seems to leave every day around the same time. Which makes sense, considering this is the last day her mother has left to live, and she uses every loop to spend time with her at the hospital.
- Margaret says as a kid she used to look for the fourth dimension everywhere but could never find it. She discovers near the end of the film that the perfect events she and Mark witnessed throughout the film form into a 4-D cube, and completing the cube ends the time loop.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: Lampshaded and discussed. Whenever Mark suggests the possibility of a time loop occurring, the people he talks to invariably bring up Groundhog Day and/or Edge of Tomorrow. It's worth noting that, similar to Palm Springs, the main variation the plot is the fact that two people are stuck in the loop together, and the film starts In Medias Res.
- Happy Rain: The day always ends with the beginnings of a thunderstorm, but time resets at midnight before any rain can fall. The rain as Margaret and Mark leave the hospital signals that the loop is broken, and happens on the day that they both declare their feelings for each other and kiss.
- In Medias Res: Mark has been in the loop for an unclear amount of time, and we never see when he realized it.
- Knight of Cerebus: Once Margaret's mother is revealed, the film gradually takes on a more solemn, thoughtful tone. An example where the Knight of Cerebus isn't a villain.
- Late to the Realization: Mark claims it took him a while to realize he was in a time loop. It only sank in when he saw there were no more new episodes of Doctor Who.
- Missing Mom: Mark's mother isn't dead, nor has she left, but the loop occurs on a day she left extra early for work, and she apparently pulls an all nighter, resulting in Mark more or less never seeing her during his time in the loop.
- More than Three Dimensions: Discussed between Mark and Margaret. Mark incorrectly states the common simplified idea that time is the fourth dimension, with Margaret saying that's untrue, at least not in any meaningful Euclidean sense. She goes on to explain the actual concept and draws a tesseract/hypercube as an example of a 4-D object, saying that this shape is everywhere but that people aren't looking in the right direction to see it. Margaret discovers in the climax that some of the perfect moments she and Mark recorded on their map form into an almost complete tesseract, with finishing it being key to breaking the loop.
- The Oner: Late in the film, as Mark and Margaret are arguing, the camera stays on them as they move through a restaurant kitchen they've apparently been through several times before.
- Once More, with Clarity!: When Mark discovers that Margaret has been visiting her dying mother at the hospital, the film shows her waking up and experiencing a day in the loop from her perspective.
- Pinball Projectile: One of the perfect moments happens at a tennis court, involving a ball bouncing from racket to racket to a drink cooler and whacking a random bystander in the back of the head.
- Supporting Protagonist: Mark lampshades this, saying to Henry that he thought this whole time loop was about him meeting a girl and falling in love with her in an endless time loop, and that he was the hero of the story. He later realizes he's wrong, that it's Margaret's story and about her accepting her mother's coming death and learning to face that reality and navigate through it.
- Spiritual Antithesis: To comedic "Groundhog Day" Loop works like Palm Springs and Russian Doll that feature two protagonists caught in a time loop. The former two are more adult works that feature large amounts of hilariously dark deaths, while this film is a Coming of Age story aimed at the YA fiction crowd, is far softer in tone and doesn't show any overt violence or fatal injury.
- "Spread Wings" Frame Shot: Margaret shows Mark a man sitting at a bench as a van marked "Eagle Moving" stops in traffic behind him. The printed wings on the side line up exactly where the man is positioned.
- That Cloud Looks Like...: Margaret and Mark find not just a cloud that's shaped exactly like a question mark but later find another cloud that looks like an exclamation point, with the moon acting as the dot both times.
- Time Loop Fatigue: Two-thirds into the movie Mark becomes not just bored but numb to anything happening in the loop, pointing out a perfect thing without any trace of wonder or enjoyment. This is due to combination of wanting to live life outside of one day forever and Margaret rejecting him and not kissing him back.