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Palm Springs, A Movie Shrouded in Interpretations

Palm Springs is a science fiction movie released on 10th of July 2020 directed by Max Barbakow and screenwriter Andy Siara. It tells of a story between two strangers who met in a wedding party and, surprise, they’re in a time loop. Throughout the endless repetition, Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah Wilder (Cristin Millioti) get to know each other, be it their worst sides or best sides.

The crux of this movie lies in the time loop. Every event in Palm Springs comes back to the time loop. Everything just resets back as soon as Nyles sleeps or dies in the time loop.

(See what I did there)

And the best part is Max as the director doesn’t explain how all of this happened in the first place, it’s all up to our interpretation.

The story opens up with Nyles performing a wedding speech and then dancing around the people perfectly without crashing anybody. His attention is fully on Sarah as he aims to impress her. They ended up in the bar and after drinking, they’re in the wilderness smooching. After seeing Roy (J.K. Simmons), he ran outside a glowing red cave with Sarah in tow.

Courtesy of Limelight Production

Roy ran into the cave thinking Nyles went inside and a curious Sarah followed suit. Nyles attempts to stop Sarah but he fails and it reveals that the cave was the entrance into the time loop that Nyles has been stuck in for an undetermined amount of time. Now they’re stuck in this time loop and after having “fun” with Nyles and getting in love with him, she decides to find a way out.

Mechanics of things outside of our comprehension aside, the story is good enough to support the direction of where the movie is pointing towards. The main drive is definitely the character development between Nyles who at first is nonchalant about everything because as fate had it, he’s been stuck in this time loop since god knows when and Sarah who’s brought into the whole mess by accident.

Oh and don’t forget Roy, not to blame since the movie kind of did him dirty. Roy is an old man that Nyles befriended some loops back and is then stuck the same as Nyles and Sarah. Except for the end where we’ll see Nyles and Roy talking, the rest of the movie Roy is just portrayed as this guy who wants to kill Nyles over and over again. Though he serves the plot some bit, it’s kinda a waste since really there’s only three characters who we care about and the rest are just NPCs.

The development of Nyles is definitely the biggest since also he’s the one most affected by the time loop. He went from an average twitter doomer to a real person with life and hope. All of that can happen because of one single gal, Sarah. She’s the person that Nyles is attracted to most since out of all the woman that he encountered and did sexual acts with, Sarah is the one that he’s most done it with.

Courtesy of Limelight Production

Discussing Sarah’s character development is pretty straightforward. She went from rejecting, getting mad, asking Nyles how to quit the time loop, depressed and soon she accepted reality, basically the five stages of grief. But different from Nyles who just accepts and doesn’t do anything, she looks for a way out and she eventually does. What I can say is that Sarah is the one that makes Palm Springs interesting because without her, we’ll just be stuck with Nyles doing meaningless things and Roy killing him again and again.

So far, I’ve just been listing character developments and no real story yet. Well, that’s because I don’t know either. I’ve got my opinions sure but Palm Springs doesn’t really have an objective in mind. Heck, without Sarah the plot would just literally stop. It’s an open-ended movie chocked full with interpretations you can make and the ending also implies the same thing. And again that’s the best part of the whole movie, it doesn’t explain itself, we’re left to interpret what we want.

While this sort of movie I find interesting, it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. But just as Nyles finally wants to quit the time loop together with Sarah, you can try this movie and see if you like it.

Overall, Palm Springs is a good movie, no masterpiece, but if you’re bored and you’re in an inquisitive mood, then definitely give this one a watch.


Our score: 7.5/10


Title: Palm Springs
Production: Limelight Productions, Sun Entertainment
Director: Max Barbakow
Screenwriter: Andy Siara
Casts: Andy Samberg, Cristin Millioti, J.K. Simmons, Peter Gallagher, Meredith Hagner

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