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While montages are commonplace in feature films, found in the majority of releases, they have a special significance in time loop stories. Why? Because as soon as a character is shown in a montage reliving multiple days in a short blast to move the plot along, all concept of chronological time is thrown out the window. The audience no longer knows if they have witnessed all of a protagonist’s time in the loop, or if all that’s shown is bits and pieces.
At the end of the day, the only people that really know how long characters spend time looping are the filmmakers and the actors – and the new comedy Palm Springs is no exception. As such, I felt compelled to ask about it when I had the opportunity to talk to the film’s stars, Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, during the movie’s virtual press day last month:
Produced by The Lonely Island and directed by newcomer Max Barbakow, Palm Springs centers on Nyles (Andy Samberg), a man suffering from an unusual predicament: he is repeating the same day over and over again, with that day including a location wedding in the titular California resort city. While looping has very much become the norm for him, circumstances change when he accidentally gets another party guest, Sarah (Cristin Milioti), stuck in the same cycle with him. As they test the limits of the weird circumstances and try and find ways to both escape and adjust, they start to get closer and closer emotionally – but the problem is that they both have devastating secrets that have the potential to ruin everything.
Without spoiling anything, it’s never specifically said in Palm Springs how long either Nyles or Sarah get trapped in their respective loops (the former at one point mentions it’s been so long that he’s actually forgotten), but it was definitely something to which both of the actors were paying close attention. Cristin Milioti was arguably in the easier position in that respect, as we actually watch her first repeat day, but she put a lot of extra effort into tracking it all, throwing in a reference to arguably cinema’s greatest corkboard/thumbtack/string enthusiast:
[I was] paying very close attention. I kept copious notes of calibrating exactly where she's at, what has just happened, what she doesn't know, what she does – just like scribbled everywhere, like Beautiful Mind-style.
Picking up from that, Andy Samberg acknowledged that he too was keeping close track of things through Palm Spring’s production, not only having regular conversations about it with the director, but also writer Andy Siara. What added a funny wrinkle to the process, however, was that the question “How long has Nyles been looping?” was one that apparently had more than one answer. Said the star/producer,
There were certainly conversations, not just with Max, but also with Andy Siara who wrote the script. Cause he was there a lot, and we were very grateful for that because even if it was to discuss points of time that we all disagreed on – 'In my mind has been this amount of time.' And I was like, 'Well, for me, it's this amount.' He's like, 'It doesn't matter; just go with whatever.' [laughs] The point is, it's a long time.
It’s entirely plausible that what will end up seeing unfold is a fan reaction akin to what has happened with Groundhog Day, and eventually somebody with a lot of time on their hands will do their best to try and calculate how much time Nyles and Sarah spend looping. But before that can happen, Palm Springs actually has to be released first.
Fortunately, the wait for that is nearly over. Following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, the new romantic comedy will be hitting Hulu this weekend. We highly recommend checking it out – and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more of our Palm Springs coverage!