Movie Review - Marjorie Prime
Lois Smith stars as the titular character. She at first is Marjorie, a 85-year-old widower who is perhaps suffering from Alzheimer's disease. She has trouble remembering things. She can at times become disoriented and fall. Instead of a nursing home, she lives with her adult daughter and son-in-law.
Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption and Mystic River) co-stars as Jon, the husband of Tess and the father to their daughter, Reina. He's smart but is a simple and sweet man. He may perhaps have a drinking problem. To help Marjorie with her illness and make sure she's not lonely, Jon embraces technology. He programs for her what is a life-like, holographic projection of a lost loved one, a perfect re-creation of a dead person with artificial intelligence to interact verbally to Marjorie.
Jon Hamm (Mad Men and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) also co-stars as Walter, the husband to Marjorie who has since passed away. Hamm is in his late forties as well as his character. Presumably, Walter died probably in his eighties, but Walter in his 40's is when Marjorie fell in love with him or it's the age she best remembers him, so it's at this age that his holographic projection appears. The hologram is called "Walter Prime."
When the film opens, Marjorie is talking to Walter Prime who feels and behaves like a robot or essentially an android, which ostensibly it is, though one can never touch it, merely talk to it. It learns by way of feeding it memories, so that's what it solicits and that's what Marjorie does. She feeds it memories of her life with the late Walter. She talks to it about the past.
There have been so many films about robots that seem human and how we as humans understand humanity more through these robots, or some kind of artificial intelligence. There really hasn't been a great one of these films in the past twenty years, not even the recent Oscar-winner Ex Machina (2014). This film, however, is a great example of that exploration of who we are through robot as well as the legacy of humanity.
Writer-director Michael Almereyda (Hamlet and Experimenter) does absolutely right by his material. Sometimes, it's as simple as no editing and simply letting the camera linger on Smith's face. Sometimes, it's knowing how to integrate an ominous score. Sometimes, it's lighting a character in an angelic or ghost-like way. The film, though not a horror and quite simple, is haunting. It's beautiful and more importantly it's smart.
Not Rated but for mature audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 38 mins.
In Select Theaters, including Washington DC and Baltimore.
Coming to Wilmington, DE on September 29.
For theaters and locations, go to film's website.