Palm Springs – a film that keeps on repeating, with little substance
It isn’t far into the movie, Palm Springs, that you suddenly start thinking, “haven’t I seen this before”? You are most likely right if you have seen Groundhog Day, and you are definitely right if you continue watching Palm Springs, as its premise is based on a similar time loop plot.
On November 9, Nyles (Adam Samberg) wakes up next to his girlfriend Misty (Meredith Hagner) on the wedding day of Tala and Abe. At the reception, he delivers a seemingly impromptu speech, to the relief of the drunk and unprepared maid of honor Sarah (Cristin Milloti). The two bond and, after discovering Misty cheating on Nyles, attempt to have sex until Nyles is abruptly shot in the shoulder with an arrow by an older man named Roy. Wounded, he crawls towards a mysterious red light in a nearby cave, and warns Sarah not to follow. Sarah, curious, is sucked into a vortex in the cave. All this within the first few minutes of the film leave viewers wondering where this is headed.
Sarah wakes up on November 9. After she confronts Nyles, he explains that she is now stuck in the same time loop as him. He did warn her not to enter the cave. Sarah unsuccessfully attempts many escape methods, such as driving to her hometown or suicide. Basically every time they fall asleep, or die, the same day begins over again, but the routine can be anything they decide. Nyles and Sarah spend many days together, often relaxing in the pool of a vacationing family that happens to be away until November 10th. Other days are spent thinking of ways to cause havoc on the world, or killing themselves to get out of the vortex.
Sarah and Nyles eventually have sex “to get it over with”, knowing that nothing is real anyways. Nyles even confesses to having sex with several others, including a male friend, who he says is “a nice guy.” The next day, Sarah is woken up by Abe, having spent the night of November 8 together, that she is totally confused by. It’s all getting so much stranger. The movie stops and restarts so many times, often with quick frequency, that it becomes difficult to know what’s going on. Add to this the juvenile lines that are suppose to emit laughter, but don’t, along with too many open ended plot lines, and the film soon runs amok as we wait for the credits to scroll…and the viewing vortex to be over.
Palm Springs had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2020, and was released digitally on Hulu and in select drive-in theatres on July 10, 2020. Directed by Max Barbakow (in his directorial debut) and written by Andy Siara
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.