(director/writer: Bernardo Britto; cinematographer: Ava Benjamin Shorr; editors: Bernardo Britto, Martin Anderson; music: Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith; cast: Mary-Louise Parker (Zoya Lowe), Ayo Edebiri (Paula Campos), Carlos Jacott (Donald), Chris Witaske (Morris), Hannah Pearl Utt (Jayne), Riley Fincher-Foster (Young Zoya), Fern Katz (Zoya’s mom); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Benjamin Cohen, Patrick Donovan, David Hinojosa; Killer Films; 2024)

“The pic is more about getting the emotional responses right when facing death than having its time-travel story add up.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The title of the near future time-loop film was lifted from the Miami transit service. The bizarre film is directed and written by Bernardo Britto (“Jacqueline Argentine”/”Boat Tour”).

The melancholy and lo-fi sci-fi pic is about facing death, living life to the fullest and navigating the difficulties of dealing with our mundane life experiences.

The 55-year-old Zoya Lowe (Mary-Louise Parker), a Miami resident, is released from the hospital and told by her doctor that she has a week to live because of her unique terminal illness–a black hole in her chest (something only astronauts might get or those exposed to large amounts of radiation (both are not things pertaining to her). At home she finds herself in a “Groundhog Day” scenario of reliving over and over again her last five days.

Zoya is ready to call it a life, stuck doing the same thing every day as things become a hopeless drag.

She’s a physicist who has a daughter Jayne (Hannah Pearl Utt) and has co-written a physics book with her husband (Carlos Jacott).

During her “Groundhog Day” experience, she returns to the hospital, visits her frail mom (Fern Katz) in a nursing-care home, meets the young student scientist Paula (Ayo Edebiri), and they partner to find out through science what kind of weird trip she’s going through.

The film’s strongest moments are the zany comedic lab conversations between Zoya and Paula, who have made a great relationship connection.

During her last days, Zoya has taken those magical blue pills she found in a bottle in the field when she was 12 (Riley Fincher-Foster), pills that can manipulate time. An off-screen narrator tells her at the time to expect great things in her life.

It smartly uses the “Groundhog Day” storytelling experience to tell us not to waste our lives feeling sorry for ourselves, but to try and do the best we can to fulfill our dearest hopes. In her case, she should have become a science researcher.

The pic is more about getting the emotional responses right when facing death than having its time-travel story add up.

It played at SXSW.