Russian Doll

Year: 2019

Synopsis: On her 36th birthday, Nadia finds herself in a time loop after being struck by a car, falling down stairs, falling down stairs again, etc., and along with another aware of the loop, works to find a way out.

Pros:
• The darkly comedic plot was powered by the strengths of Natasha Lyonne (Nadia) and Charlie Barnett (Alan). Both the characters initially dealt with the situation in polar opposite ways.
• Made unique amongst other stories with the time loop plot by being set within a constantly moving city, making the protagonists (victims?) the eponymous needle within a deadly haystack.
• The allusions to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None added both eerie mystery and a sense of immediacy. Such themes led to haunting reality bending.
• Successfully merged the humor with the dark themes of death and destructive regret.

Cons:
• Not for those looking for the more lighthearted tones of Groundhog Day (1993).
• The complex nature of the plot might make the story hard for those not paying close attention to the plethora of details.

Discussion:
“Doesn’t matter. I die all the time.”

Perhaps the most interesting element of the time loop trope is how the one(s) trapped in the apparent purgatory must create their own way out. Doing so involves learning everything, including what they hid from themselves. Even the TNG rendition of theme, “Cause and Effect,” had Capt. Picard and others almost shy about sensing the loop, but it took them working together to send the simplest of messages to the next loop to save them all from repeating their deaths until they did not exist anymore. Then there’s the other episode where Picard literally had to kill himself to end a loop. Plus, there’s the fact that Groundhog Day’s Phill Connors killed himself so many times that his old self was all but shed, slowly allowing himself to move toward a more selfless path.

Nadia and Alan were seemingly polar opposites, yet somehow quantum entangled systems in purgatory at least partly of their own making. They were leafs passing each other in the wind, lost in their own collapsing lives. Under a desperate assumption, the worked to put it all together to save not themselves but each other. In the end, sometimes we find ourselves in endless loops of sameness, and finally seeing that repetition can be the darkest of jokes. But perhaps, we can find a way out by aiming for something different.


Official Website

Rotten Tomatoes — 98%

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