The other week i finally watched the movie Palm Springs - I think I'd heard some good reviews, and had a vague notion that it was sort of a romantic comedy with a time loop twist. I absolutely flipped out over it and watched it again the next day, and hunted down a handful of interviews about it, and so on.
It really struck a chord with me, but after recommending it to a couple friends and hearing some unenthusiastic reactions (sorry, friends!) I realized that maybe it was one of those flicks that was amazing for me, and not necessarily for everybody else.
So obviously, I am a fan of the time loop concept in stories.
It's very entertaining to watch scenes play out, with multiple mysteries to be revealed as the character goes through their repetitions and sees more and more of the world during their looped time.
The fun of this genre is seeing what the characters do with their combination superpower/curse. In comedies or romances, the character can try again and again to get things right, and learn new skills in less than a blink. In thrillers or horrors the moment of discovering the loop is probably very significant: what could be worse than the suffering that never, ever ends. The dramatic possibilities are great, too, as characters can do extraordinary things in certain ways - but not in a way that will ever last, or matter, or be remembered by anyone but themselves.
But what really makes the genre work for me, I think, is the themes that are present in this kind of story.
To me, the time loop story is the ultimate metaphor for the meaningless life. A life of certain, fleeting pleasures, and powers, but with no way to build anything truly lasting. The thrill of being able to predict outcomes, manipulate your way into certain situations, not have to worry about consequences - it all eventually fades into existential misery. The consequence-free life becomes a nightmare.
Finding meaning in a meaningless existence - that's a character arc that always works for me. And the time loop story is so much fun, and useful to tell that story.
Palm Springs, I thought, told a satisfying time loop story, with an ending that satisfied on a plot level as well as a thematic one.
How do you like timeloop stories? Got a favorite?
Have a good one!
Banes at 12:00AM, April 29, 2021
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