Mary-Louise Parker stars as a woman with one week to live, over and over again

Mary-Louise Parker and Ayo Edebiri in Omni Loop.

Brazilian-American filmmaker Bernardo Britto’s sophomore feature, Omni Loop, premiered at SXSW yesterday. His time travel drama with comedic tendencies centers around retired scientist Zoya Lowe (Mary-Louise Parker, Fried Green Tomatoes, Weeds) who keeps repeating the same week of her life. Her family learns her fatal diagnosis – there’s a black hole growing at the center of her body which will soon kill her – and drives Zoya from the hospital to live her last days at home. When a nosebleed signals her time is nigh, she takes a special pill and goes back to the start of the week.

Curious about what gives the pills this power, she ropes in science student Paula (Ayo Edebiri, The Bear, Bottoms) to help with her research. As their mentorship forms, Zoya’s selfishness plays off Paula’s guarded optimism. We see the bond grow through their week(s) together. The friendship between the two women is given equal weight as Zoya’s family time, reflecting her feeling of being pulled between family and potential discovery.

Through humor, Omni Loop contemplates themes of self doubt, missed opportunity and the necessity of true connection. The quirkiness of the narrative and the importance of place (in this instance, Miami, Florida) call to mind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But instead of a doomed romance, Omni Loop considers end-of-life issues.

Witty editing (by Britto and Martin Anderson) keeps the film from feeling repetitive, and Ava Benjamin Shorr’s cinematography adds further layers to the storytelling. The technopop scoring by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, heavy on synthesizer, and the brutalist architecture of the college campus accentuate the science fiction aspect of the work. Even though there’s a slight slowdown of pacing in the third act, Omni Loop wins the viewer back.

The unique voice, the goofy vibe, and the quietly compelling performances from Parker and Edebiri – as well as Carlos Jacott and Hannah Pearl Utt as Zoya’s husband and daughter – pull the audience in. Omni Loop comes darn near close to a perfect ending, so emotionally potent it had this critic practically weeping in her seat.

Omni Loop screens again at SXSW 2024 this evening at ZACH.

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