Palm Springs review – Groundhog Day with wedding bells on | Film


It’s an unexceptional wedding. Perhaps the cocktail bar aesthetic is a touch on the cheesy side. Perhaps there are a few sexual misadventures. Certainly a lot of beer is consumed, most of it by Nyles (Andy Samberg, excellent in a role that harnesses his comic talent but hones it into a performance of unexpected depth). But what is unusual is the location, next to a portal that leads to what Nyles nonchalantly describes as “one of those infinite time loops you might have heard of”. It’s a sly nod to the fact that cinema has been caught in this particular high concept before. But surface similarities to Groundhog Day are relegated to background noise, thanks to the crisp writing and the nihilistic bite of the humour.

When we join the wedding, Nyles has already been caught in the loop for long enough to have relinquished hope and any pretence of giving a damn. But the endless inevitability is disrupted when Sarah (Cristin Milioti), sister of the bride and a velvet-eyed car crash of a woman, is sucked into the same repeated day. And the infinite grind of repetition suddenly takes on an element of fun.

An insouciance of approach is evident in the film’s synthetic colour palette of Hawaiian shirt primaries and visual gags, such as the yin and yang placement of two inflatable pizza slices in a pool. But there are weightier themes. It’s a film about fatalism versus fierce and emphatic free will; settling versus risking it all. Covid brings an added resonance: what is true love, after all, if not actively aching to spend time with the person with whom you’ve been flung together for what seems like an eternity?

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