Sci-fi melds with sentimentality in Michael Almereyda’s film adaptation of Jordan Harrison’s play, Marjorie Prime, a study of memories and attachments to deceased loved ones within a futuristic setting. Taking place in a time in which holograms of the dead are digitally created to communicate with the living, the movie explores the concept of life after death in an innovative way. It asks: What if death is not the end, and what if we could carry on conversations with our spouse or child who has passed on? What would they reveal?
Here Marjorie (Lois Smith) is an ageing widow who speaks with the digital 40-year-old “ghost” of her husband Walter (Jon Hamm). With an uplifting and positive spin on futurism and technology, the idea opens up the potential for the shattering of idealised recollections in favour of realism, while face-to-face encounters with the past also enlighten and provide closure. However, since such interactions are taking place within artificial constructs and programmed thoughts, the question comes to mind of what is the purpose of it, except to serve as a form of drama therapy? Nevertheless, the concept is provocative and thought-provoking.
With outstanding cinematography, the opening scene shows an exquisite, blurry image of a glimmering sea, evoking the notion of beautiful but unclear reminiscences. The setting consists primarily of Marjorie’s beach house; with very expressive sound effects of ocean waves and music ranging from Beethoven to striking new age compositions, a dreamlike, poetic atmosphere prevails.
A compassionate, warm and graceful piece, the film is beautifully written and directed. Hamm brilliantly recreates the holographic Walter, and Smith’s Marjorie is touchingly and superbly portrayed. Geena Davis performs with impressive subtlety as her anxiety-ridden daughter, Tess, and Tim Robbins is terrific as her son-in-law, Jon, who is covertly providing memories to Walter’s avatar. A poignant work and a fascinating meditation on future technologies and the boundaries between life and afterlife, Marjorie Prime is thoughtful, perceptive and compelling.
Marjorie Prime does not have a UK release date yet.
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