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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Prospero

One goal, two paths

No doubt, you have heard about Palm Springs, the sleeper hit by director Max Barbakow and screenwriter Andy Siara. A rom-com with a sci-fi twist to send your mind loopy.

The protagonist of the film is Nyles and the antagonist is Sarah, or is it? Maybe, Sarah is the protagonist and the Nyles is the antagonist? It doesn't matter, because the success of the film comes down to the interchangeable hero/villain concept.

Nyles and Sarah both want the same goal, but they both have different and opposing ways of achieving it.

Both characters want to be with the other -- however, Nyles wants to stay in the loop and live every day with Sarah, and Sarah wants to risk death to escape and live together every day outside of the loop.

The film achieves a heighten climax point in Act 3 when Nyles wants to stay and Sarah wants to leave. Whoever achieves the goal of being together, the other loses. Perfect conflict storytelling.

Nyles's situation is he fears dying in the time loop and losing Sarah forever, therefore not achieving his goal. Sarah's situation is she fears staying in the time loop and never escaping her mistakes, resenting Nyles and not achieving her goal.

The movie's success is in this very dilemma. Both characters have reasonable and understandable arguments for their choices. The audience feels for both characters and the film's overarching question, will they or won't they?

My goal with the blog is to find little gold nuggets in films that we can use for our own stories. Palm Spring's golden nugget is this, create a goal that both your protagonist and antagonist want, but have their approach and choice the complete opposite. This technique will create heightened tension for your protagonist and a deeper and empthathic feel for your antagonist.

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