Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a time-loop movie that might just

  • change how you see the point of your existence.

  • This is The Takeaway, a series brought to you by The Take,

  • where we break down the endings of your favorite films and TV shows

  • to get to their deeper meanings and messages.

  • In this episode, we're unpacking what happened at the end of

  • The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, and how the movie reveals that

  • time isn't something we lose with every passing second.

  • It's something we can gain by creating the collection of

  • perfect moments that make up a life.

  • Every second of perfect moments, one after the other until by the end,

  • you have your whole life.”

  • [Music]

  • The film ends with Margaret and Mark escaping their time-loop -- at last,

  • They're temporally and emotionally unstuck, ready for the future.

  • Their first act on this brand new morning is to return the lost dog

  • that Margaret's been looking for since the first scene when she

  • enters the film.

  • We just have all this-- this time. I guess I just wanted to try and,

  • like, fix something.”

  • To Margaret, this missing dog was a symbol of how the world was

  • broken and unfixable.

  • Even if she managed to find and return the dog,

  • it wouldn't change anything.

  • TomorrowHe'll just be lost all over again.”

  • With this ending, Margaret signals that she's ready to try to fix

  • what's broken in this world, and to let herself heal.

  • [Whispers] “I know it's gonna hurt really bad, but I think that I have to

  • wake up now.”

  • There are two major shifts in the story that get us to this ending.

  • First, after trying seemingly everything under the sun to break his time-loop,

  • Mark has a revelation: he's not the hero of this story.

  • It wasn't my story at allIt was Margaret's.”

  • We discover that Margaret wanted time to stop --

  • because she wasn't ready to move on to the first day

  • when she would wake up as a motherless child.

  • “I'm not ready to not have a mom. I just wanted time to stop.”

  • And the second major shift in the story is that Margaret finally becomes ready

  • to face her grief.

  • After an honest conversation with her mom helps Margaret see

  • how many positive experiences await her, she can complete the map of tiny

  • perfect things with the one moment that was missing -- her kiss with Mark --

  • “I think that this is the moment, right now, and I don't want to miss it.”

  • -- and move on into the messy, imperfect future.

  • So let's look more closely at what it takes for Margaret

  • and Mark to break their cycle, and what they teach all of us

  • about how to get unstuck.

  • [Music]

  • When we meet Mark, he's already well-adjusted to his time-loop.

  • Daiquiri, it's a village in Cuba. It's got three I's in it.

  • Andtoast time.”

  • He's a master at optimizing the little details and rhythms of his morning,

  • but so far hasn't had much luck with the real business of his day:

  • trying to impress the cute girl who gets hit by a beach ball at the pool.

  • Sorryare you okay?”

  • Thank you!”

  • Like many of us, Mark has seen time-loop movies before.

  • It's just wake up, rejection, repeat.”

  • Is that from Edge of Tomorrow?”

  • Yeah, it is.”

  • Pop-culture classics like Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow,

  • and Doctor Who are pretty much his only tool for processing

  • what might be happening and what the point of it could be.

  • Is time just a big ball of wibbly wobbly

  • timey wimey stuff?”

  • Okay, that-- that's a quote from Doctor Who.”

  • It's only when Mark meets Margaret -- another person experiencing

  • this temporal anomaly -- that he starts to develop a more

  • original perspective of his situation.

  • After he starts sharing his tiny perfect things with her, and

  • Margaret shows him one she's found -- the eagle catching he fish in the lake --

  • this gives him he idea to find all the perfect moments in this one day.

  • We must miss so many of them! All those tiny perfect things are just,

  • poof, gone, lost foreverbut not today.”

  • When Margaret eventually finds the map of tiny perfect things

  • that Mark re-draws every day, we see that he's trying to glean

  • some meaning from the combination of all these random, beautiful occurrences.

  • Sometimes I think if I stare at it long enough, I'll find something,

  • like a-- like a pattern.”

  • Yet at this point, he's still to a large degree following

  • the Groundhog Day playbook.

  • Wait, wasn't that a movie where Bill Murray is stuck in the same day

  • 'till her has sex with his hot boss?”

  • Mark assumes the ultimate point of this is experience is to fall in love.

  • Things get more and more romantic, and then bam! You kiss her.”

  • “I don't think that's the sound effect that I would go for.”

  • Okay, but you gotta get the kiss, though.”

  • In Groundhog Day, before Phill Connors can get the girl, he has to realize

  • that the key to his happiness is to stop being self-centered --

  • The wretch, concentered all in self, shall go down to the vile dust,

  • from whence he sprung.”

  • -- and live more for others.

  • Is there anything I can do for youtoday?”

  • And while Mark doesn't start out as a jerk like Phil,

  • he still must learn to step outside his habitual, self-centered view.

  • “I think about other people beside myself.

  • You should try it sometime.”

  • After Margaret doesn't want to Start a romance and they

  • spend some time apart --

  • This cuz I won't kiss you?... Why don't you kiss one of them?”

  • -- Mark finds fulfillment by thinking more about what's going on in

  • other people's inner worlds.

  • Hey Dadhow's your book going?”

  • It's gr-- it's great!”

  • Through this, he starts affecting the day in deeper ways

  • than he ever did before.

  • And he begins a new chain of events that leads him to see the full picture.

  • At last, he discovers where Margaret goes each evening --

  • to the hospital to visit her mother on her deathbed, over and over.

  • And this makes Mark realize, at last: The world doesn't revolve around him.

  • “I thought it was a love story, and I was the hero,

  • butit wasn't about me.”

  • The world doesn't revolve around meis a key revelation that every

  • adolescent must experience.

  • Adolescent egocentrismis the name for the very common belief of many older

  • tweens and teens that (as Verywell Family puts it)

  • all eyes are on them all the time.”

  • Moreover, the twist that this is Margaret's narrative is a welcome reveal

  • for a movie subgenre that does almost always revolve around a male.

  • In Groundhog Day, we never see Andie MacDowell's Rita

  • struggling with much; she just seems to have been

  • a pretty awesome person from the start.

  • These people are great! Some of them been

  • partying all night long! They sing songs

  • 'till they get too cold and then they go sit by the fire

  • and they get warm and then they come back

  • and then sing some more!”

  • And the end of the movie turns her more or less into Phil's prize

  • for becoming such a great guy.

  • “I'm happy now., because I love you.”

  • “I think I'm happy too.”

  • Meanwhile, the way that Margaret is introduced might make her seem

  • like she's going to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl

  • who's there to help give Mark's life purpose with her

  • quirky and fascinating personality.

  • Except time's not in the fourth dimension.”

  • It's not?”

  • No, not in any meaningful Euclidean sense.”

  • She even makes math cute!

  • The first thing you need to know about math is that it's always perfect.”

  • But the film subverts these expectations by revealing that the point isn't for

  • Mark to figure out his purpose at all.

  • He's there to support, motivate, and inspire Margaret as she comes to terms

  • with her mother's death.

  • “I think it's because, you know, when it's time to go,

  • I wouldn't have to go alone.”

  • In a foreshadowing of the movie's romantic climax,

  • after she sees the map, it's Margaret who can

  • instinctively grasp what the pattern is.

  • [Whispers] “You made a map of us.”

  • Meanwhile, a cool easter egg at the start of the movie goes some way

  • to explaining why Mark's map doesn't work until she gets involved.

  • In the library, Mark is reading Douglas Adams' sci-fi novel

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

  • Famously, in this book, the super-computer Deep Thought

  • calculates that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42.

  • But nobody understands this answer, because they don't know the question.

  • But it was the great question! The ultimate question of life,

  • the universe, and everything!

  • But what actually is it?”

  • For Mark, the answer to life, the universe, and everything may be

  • the map of tiny perfect things -- but he doesn't understand why.

  • It's only when Margaret participates with her much greater understanding

  • of why they're there and her ability to make this 2-D map into something

  • four-dimensional that they grasp both the answer and the question,

  • and can leave the time-loop together.

  • [Music]

  • This time-loop was caused by Margaret's refusal to accept her mother's death.

  • And if we look closer, Margaret's attitude

  • reflects well-documented symptoms of grief.

  • The time-loop is effectively a metaphor for Margaret's denial:

  • she literally won't allow reality to continue by denying that

  • time has to move on.

  • Sometimes I don't want this day to end… I just want time to stay

  • broken forever.”

  • Meanwhile, she uses reckless driving as an outlet for her anger.

  • [Car horn] “Hey, watch it!”

  • Even when she shows Mark the first perfect thing,

  • it's Mark who sees positive meaning it in.

  • For Margaret, it's a very different image.

  • “I think I identify with that fish.”

  • Part of the tragedy of Margaret is that we know what kind of adult 

  • she wants to be.

  • Who knows what they wanna be when they're 17?”

  • “I do.”

  • Really?”

  • Aerospace engineer. Specifically, a NASA mission specialist.”

  • The math and science genius' ambitions involve going as far beyond

  • her small town as a human being can go.

  • [Muffled voice] “It's one small step for Margaret.”

  • No! Don't ruin it!”

  • But when she's offered an actual chance to get away -- when Mark suggests flying

  • to Tokyo could break the time-loop -- she bails.

  • Margaret, are you okay?”

  • Her desire to explore and achieve is inextricably linked with facing a day

  • without her mother; so her grief keeps her from staying on that plane --

  • literally preventing her from moving toward her future.

  • After Margaret finds the dog, she has an epiphany while immersed

  • in a different kind of not-quite-real life: a video game.

  • She understands that if she continues to live in her grief,

  • she won't really be living.

  • So terrible to lose someone. And if you don't face it,

  • if you don't deal with it, thenyou just end up

  • losing yourself too.”

  • She takes the brave step of discussing her feelings openly

  • with her mom on her deathbed.

  • And it's then that Margaret's mom helps her to see time's forward motion

  • in a positive light: time may be passing us

  • with every second, but at the same time,

  • we're accumulating experiences that add up to a life well-lived.

  • [Whispers] “It's true that we're losing time every day, all the time,

  • until one day it's all gone, but you're gaining it too.”

  • By appreciating andcollectingperfect moments,

  • we can feel satisfied with how we've used our time.

  • It's not simply accepting her mother's death that breaks

  • the time-loop, though.

  • What's more important is that this acceptance breaks Margaret's paralysis.

  • There's something missing and it's time.”

  • While the other tiny perfect things on Mark's and Margaret's map are

  • things that happen around them every single day,

  • the final missing moment is something she has to do.

  • She has to seize her agency -- both to initiate the kiss with Mark,

  • and to resolve the time-loop.

  • That was kinda perfect.”

  • “… There was a hair in my mouth.” [Both laughing]

  • [Music]

  • The Map of Tiny Perfect Things applies the time-loop concept

  • to teenagers, who just so happen to be at the age when our concept of time

  • begins to change.

  • Evidence has shown that the older you get,

  • the quicker you perceive time moving, and the acceleration begins

  • in your teenage years.

  • The story gives us a refreshingly youthful perspective on time,

  • with characters who are confronting a whole adult future ahead of them,

  • trying to understand what time really is how we should use it.

  • “I was hoping we could have a talkabout your future.”

  • “I'm so glad you brought that up, because I've actually been considering

  • joining the priesthood.”

  • While characters like Phil Connors or Tom Cruise's William Cage may find it

  • hellish to be stuck in their day, at first for Mark and Margaret,

  • this may not seem like such a bad scenario: to be forever young with no

  • consequences or responsibilities.

  • We're free! Free from getting older, from going to school,

  • from climate change, cancer.”

  • Eventually, though, Mark realizes he's terrified

  • by the idea of not growing up.

  • We