Mary-Louise Parker and Ayo Edibiri stare at a computer screen in Omni Loop | Agents of Fandom

SXSW 2024: ‘Omni Loop’ Isn’t Your Average Time-Loop Tale

Omni Loop’s sensational ability to maintain a grounded, heartfelt story of grief and hope while instilling comedy and sci-fi elements proves why it’s one of the best films out of SXSW this year.

We’ve all seen a time loop tale before. You’ve probably seen Groundhog Day, one of the most popular films revolving around the narrative of a time loop. Or perhaps Edge of Tomorrow, the cult action flick starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. But have you ever seen a film that features somebody having a black hole in their heart while living through a time loop? That is exactly the story that Omni Loop, my favorite film out of SXSW 2024, traverses.

‘Omni Loop’ Review: A Grounded Time-Loop Tale With a Lot of Heart

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For some mysterious reason, Zoya Lowe (Mary-Louise Parker), has a black hole in her heart. Although she carries a deep and incredibly knowledgeable background in physics, she is never able to work out a cure, though she’s been trying forever — or what seems like forever. She is continually reliving the same seven days, over and over again, facing a monotonous existential crisis each time.

As a child, she stumbles across a bottle of time travel-inducing pills labeled for her, only to refrain from using them until later in life when she has death knocking on her door. In her late 50’s when death does in fact come knocking, she incurs a nosebleed during her birthday party with her family.

She hastily escapes to the bathroom to take care of it and is instantaneously brought back in time exactly seven days. She relives the same morose moment of waking up in the hospital surrounded by her family who is excited to take her home to live out the rest of her days with them, only for Zoya to know there isn’t much to be excited about.

This monotonous journey seems all but hopeless until she meets Paula (Ayo Edebiri) one day outside of the senior living facility where she is visiting her mother. Paula represents the possibility of change, hope, and a future to Zoya, both metaphorically and quite literally as Zoya has never seen her in her time-loop life before.

What begins as a smartly explored narrative surrounding the fairly fickle idea of time travel — director Bernardo Britto along with cinematographer Ava Benjamin Shorr and editor Martin Anderson construct clever sequences that feel ripped straight out of the Everything Everywhere All At Once filmmaking cloth — quickly turns into Zoya and Paula’s hopeful quest toward changing the present, and the future, by curing Zoya.

Along the journey, Zoya is met with the opportunity to understand just how wonderful her perceived letdown of a life has been and how much her husband Donald (Carlos Jacott), daughter Jayne (Hannah Pearl Utt), and soon-to-be son-in-law Morris (Chris Witaske) mean to her.

Mary-Louise Parker & Ayo Edebiri Bring Limitless Levels of Humor and Charm

We all know that Ayo Edebiri can cook. Recently revered for her electric performance in Bottoms in addition to her continued dynamite display as Chef Sydney in The Bear, Omni Loop only continues her streak of wins, allowing her to deliver on both her classic style of weird humor and her sensational ability to lock into deep emotions on screen.

During the post-screening Q&A that followed the world premiere of Omni Loop at SXSW, Ayo wasn’t present due to filming The Bear in Chicago. Naturally, Bernardo called her up and mentioned how incredible the audience reception for the film was only for her to respond by expressing her gratitude and sadness for not being able to be there.

Alongside Ayo’s excellent showing is Mary-Louise Parker’s even better performance. The ability to capture longing, despair, regret, and woe is one that is not often talked about, let alone praised, yet deserves its flowers here. Without Parker’s deep connection to the idea of a life that could have been, this movie would cave in on itself much like the impending fate that her black hole heart continually presents.

‘Omni Loop’ Isn’t the Average Time Loop Tale

The film ingeniously distinguishes itself from other time-loop narratives by firmly planting the juxtaposing theme of existential hope and the authentic power of family and love at its core. Feeling inspired by the many films with shared ideas that have come before it, Omni Loop manages to eloquently walk the slimmest tightrope between a meditation on time, relationships, and the “what could have beens” on one side and an energetic, life-affirming comedy on the other.

It evenly swirls between both, bringing something fun and thought-provoking to the silver screen. With a score from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith that offers a transcendent and nearly otherworldly sound and acts as a true beating heart to the film, it’s a shame that it is without distribution out of the festival at the time of writing this review.

Omni Loop succeeds in its ability to know when to enlist comedy to break heartwrenching sadness and sit with grief to enhance the poignancy of the message at hand. A movie that is sure to quickly find a fanbase upon its (hopefully soon) release, it has stuck with me ever since seeing it at the festival. It offers something so familiar yet distinguished and intriguing, just like a black hole in somebody’s heart.

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'Omni Loop' SXSW 2024 Review

'Omni Loop' SXSW 2024 Review
4.5 5 0 1
4.5 rating
Total Score

The Good

  • Both Ayo Edebiri and Mary-Louise Parker deliver hilarious and heartwarming performances.
  • The themes of love, relationships, and life potential resonate in the strongly written script.
  • An infectious score that is the true heartbeat of the film.

The Bad

  • The film takes a while to kick off and wind down, which can be hard to lock into.
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