Groundhog Day ★★★½

When a movie's achieved such cultural significance that the whole premise becomes completely spoiled for future audiences, it has to be really good to continue holding up to scrutiny. Groundhog Day was one I expected to fall apart for me, a movie with a cute gimmick but not much substance behind its flash as the repeating jokes about repetition get, well, repetitive.

But oddly enough it was not only great, it became something rarely seen in Western cinema: an actual zen film. Yes, there certainly are meditative and spiritual films in the West but it's genuinely rare to see zen concepts handled with such precision made under the Hollywood formula without falling back towards something obliquely religious and Christian.

"What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?"

"That about sums it up for me."

That's because the main device of the film is brought in, iterated on, and tired out before the second act starts, the whole concept of re-living a day over and over and over again reduced to mere irritation as what should be either a god-like power or a hellish curse is now merely an eternal annoyance; a pebble stuck in your shoe that you can never remove but what beautiful, dream shoes you have.

And instead of devolving into potential sci-fi thriller it firmly stays within its humble territory, steering more towards a distinctly Buddhist story as life and death, rebirth and reincarnation, and reaching Nirvana through self-actualization; Groundhog Day is that rare treasure of a film that uses interesting ideas not for the sake of interesting ideas alone, but to show us parts of our humanity that we couldn't see otherwise.

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