‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things’

Marco Piaia, SJ

 Marco Piaia, SJ / Film & TV / Published Date:10 June 2021/Last Updated Date:11 June 2021

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The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a film adaptation of a short story by fantasy writer Lev Grossman. The plot is not entirely original: people trapped in a time loop are forced to relive the same day over and over again. The film, directed by Ian Samuels and featuring two teenagers, Margaret (Kathryn Newton) and Mark (Kyle Allen), engages with freshness, placing the narrative of the inner journey at the center. The production is remarkable for the poetic nature of the narrative details, even if the plot is unoriginal.

The film recounts the inner journey of Mark and Margaret within this “eternal return of the same” in which they are trapped. By reliving the same day over and over again, they already know how things will end up: with this tactical advantage, they try to fix things or, becoming resigned, not ruin the balance that has been created. The time loop, in fact, can be a prison, but also an excuse not to face problems, not to understand that, perhaps, those who have fallen asleep (at least inwardly) are the two protagonists.

Through a fantasy device the film recounts the existential experience of young people today: days marked by the boredom of a prison in which, however, one feels like “a king”; days in which one cannot find anyone who understands you and in which one always hears the same stories, in this world of adults that no longer has anything to say, except old and repeated words. Then this loop becomes a symbol: the one where we imprison our children, not allowing them to grow; the prison involving knowledge and safe actions to which we are restricted.

La Civilta Cattolica

This loop not only imprisons their lives, as the two characters will discover, but steals life from everyone else too, erasing their past and future. And so this story, like any true story, moves forward when you realize that you are not alone, that you are not the heroes of a story that is actually a fiction. So it is certainly right to try to make the same choice as the two characters, to draw a map of tiny perfect things, in a world where everything that is really beautiful escapes the gaze and senses. On the other hand, trying to give value to each moment of life makes sense only when they are shared: because, if it is true that in relationships with others “what we fix is always in danger of breaking again,” it is also true that only with them “we can really find what we had lost.”


DOI: La Civiltà Cattolica, En. Ed. Vol. 6, no. 6 art. 13, 0621: 10.32009/22072446.0621.13