Marjorie Prime

Studio: FilmRise
Directed by Michael Almereyda

Aug 17, 2017 Web Exclusive
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Half a century into our future, 86-year-old Marjorie (Lois Smith) sits across a room from her dead husband. Walter (Jon Hamm) is something of a digital phantom; a computer program that takes three-dimensional form as her deceased lover appeared during his prime. As they spend the last months of her life talking, the program “learns” from Marjorie, retaining her memories and regurgitating them as if they were its own. As the AI interacts and converses with Marjorie’s caring daughter and son-in-law (Geena Davis and Tim Robbins), it picks up on the way the family’s stories diverge: things that are misremembered, and the memories that were purposefully buried. As the software takes all of this in like a sponge, it grows and evolves into a therapeutic companion, and a near-surrogate for the man who was buried 15 years earlier.

The above is only a summary for the first part of the movie, but lays out the primary conceit of this cerebral science fiction film. Like A Ghost Story – another of 2017’s finest releases – Marjorie Prime paints the passage of time with poetic obscurity. Months (and years) pass off-screen, as the characters move about minimal locations and become absorbed in one elegiac story after another. A lesser cast couldn’t have made this movie as compelling as it is; Davis, Robbins, and Smith are superb, while Hamm does a similarly excellent job in the challenging role of the world’s most advanced Alexa device. Raising interesting questions about the growing role tech plays in our lives, Marjorie Prime is an incredibly thought-provoking piece of speculative fiction.

Author rating: 9/10

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