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SXSW Review: OMNI LOOP - A Poignant Twist on Time Loops

Two women looking at a computer in a science lab.
Image courtesy of SXSW

By Amylou Ahava

Making its world premiere at SXSW, OMNI LOOP spins a unique twist on the time loop trope and offers a genuine and original take on life and mortality. The film focuses on Zoya Lowe, a scientist facing her final week due to a mysterious illness. Mary-Louise Parker shines in her role as Zoya and delivers an emotional performance as her character finds herself trapped in an endless cycle of mundane-ness but still chooses life. The film's exploration of time and its effects on Zoya's life is intriguing, with Ayo Edebiri adding depth to the narrative as Paula, a young scientist who joins Zoya on her quest for answers. While OMNI LOOP’s pacing may feel slow at times (especially in its scientific explanations), it ultimately delivers a poignant message about the importance of living for today and appreciating life's fleeting moments. 

The story follows Zoya, a scientist facing a terminal illness caused by a black hole in her chest. However, Zoya discovers pills that reset time by one week, so instead of succumbing to her unusual ailment, she relives the same week and events over and over. The restart of the loop is always signaled with a nosebleed, which tells Zoya she will die if she does not take another time loop pill. The constant resetting of time allows Zoya to seek help from Paula, a young scientist studying time. Despite Zoya giving up on her research long ago, Paula's arrival rekindles her drive. Together, they work to understand the pills and change Zoya's fate. As the two women search for an answer, the film explores themes of acceptance, regret, and the value of time. Through their journey, Zoya and Paula form a deep bond, highlighting the importance of human connection in facing life's challenges.

OMNI LOOP stands out among time-loop films like Groundhog’s Day and Happy Death Day due to its unique science-fiction approach. While those films focus on the comedic or horror elements of repeating time and stress the time loop exists because of the character’s terrible actions,  OMNI LOOP delves deeper into the science behind its premise. The film explores complex ideas such as quantum mechanics and the nature of time, adding depth to its storytelling. The film's approach to the time loop concept is refreshing and offers a more introspective and philosophical take on the genre. By incorporating these scientific principles, OMNI LOOP invites audiences to contemplate the nature of existence and the possibilities of time manipulation. It pairs these concepts with the struggles of family and fulfilling dreams.

Even with a great deal of sci-fi themes guiding the narrative, the film also touches on the challenges many women face in scientific fields and reflects the real-world struggles of balancing career and family. Zoya’s story highlights women's pressure to choose between advancing their careers and fulfilling familial responsibilities. Throughout the film, Zoya's work is dismissed and undervalued, showcasing the systemic barriers women in science encounter. Despite her groundbreaking research, Zoya's contributions are overlooked, which reflects the gender biases present in STEM fields. The film also explores the impact of these challenges on women's self-worth and confidence. The older generations don’t always realize they are stuck and only see things in a certain way. They need a fresh (younger) perspective to let them break out of their rut. Zoya's journey to reclaim her passion for science with Paula's help speaks to the resilience of women in the face of adversity. 

The film features powerful performances from its lead actresses, Mary-Louise Parker and Ayo Edebiri, portraying strong women who defy societal expectations. Parker (known for her roles in "Weeds") embodies a scientist’s resilience and unwavering drive and showcases her as a role model for women in male-dominated fields. Edebiri, known for her work in "Big Mouth" and (of course) "The Bear," shines as a young scientist unafraid to challenge the status quo. Their on-screen interactions are a testament to their characters' strength and determination. They also stress the importance of women supporting each other in the face of adversity (in the labs or on-screen). Parker and Edebiri create a compelling duo that embodies the spirit of women who refuse to be limited by societal norms. They inspire viewers by portraying strong, independent women striving for their dreams.

Being impulsive and reckless can save your life or at least your mental health. Only once she escaped from her monotonous life was Zoya allowed to live. OMNI LOOP is an exciting find as it offers a refreshing take on the time loop genre by showcasing women scientists working together towards a common goal. It's a poignant reminder of the importance of representation (particularly of women in STEM fields) and the power of storytelling to break free from clichés. While many time loop movies focus on teaching terrible characters life lessons, this film transcends this trope by delving into the complexities of life, mortality, and the pursuit of knowledge. In a cinematic landscape often dominated by male narratives, OMNI LOOP showcases the untapped potential of women in science and the possibilities that arise when they are given the spotlight.


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