By now, this kind of stuff is a documentary.
Marjorie (Lois Smith) is an aging woman who has seen the last few years of his life slip by. Now, as she’s getting older, she’s also starting to forget things. In order to help her out a bit, her daughter (Geena Davis) and son-in-law (Tim Robbins) buy Marjorie a holographic projection known as a Prime, that looks, sounds, and is in the form of her late husband (Jon Hamm), when he was younger and they first met. At first, it’s just Marjorie speaking with it, getting to remember old times, and even reminding herself of who she once was. But because her daughter is still so angry at her for the years and years of animosity, she decides to use the Prime for herself. Then, time goes on and all of a sudden, Marjorie becomes a Prime for her daughter. And so on and so forth.
You get the picture.
Anyway, Marjorie Prime‘s a hard movie to really get into because it is so languid, slow, quiet, and even mysterious. It’s as if writer/director Michael Almereyda set out to make something so incredibly weird and brief, that you get the sense that he doesn’t want to tell you what he’s up to next, but you also don’t want to know, either. Just sitting around and waiting for whatever odd transgression he takes next is more than enough for the wait.
That said, Marjorie Prime still feels like a movie that’s much better in thought, than it is on-paper. For instance, the idea of robots walking and talking just like you or I, isn’t all that original in the world of sci-fi, or even in the real world in which we live in, and here it plays out in an interesting manner, until it seems to repeat itself and not really have anything interesting to say. Or, better yet, it does, it’s just that it’s the same point, over and over again, hitting us over the head and not allowing us to forget about it. Almost as if Almereyda didn’t trust his audience enough to really think things all through and get down to the actual meaning of everything.
And it’s not all that hard, either: Marjorie Prime is an honest movie about life, death, and how even though we accept death and the passage of time, we also try our best to find whatever substitute is out there. We do that to make ourselves feel better and we also do it to preserve the legacy of those lost. But we also do it to feel safe and act as if death isn’t just an illusion, but a crazy idea that will never become reality to us. The movie’s a lot darker and sadder than it lets on, which is why despite my general lack of actual enjoyment watching it, I can’t help but feel a great deal of respect for it actually going to some deep and disturbing places that I didn’t expect to come around.
It’s also thanks to the pretty wonderful cast on-hand, too.
Lois Smith, for what seems like in forever, is finally given a role that allows her to be more than just the cooky granny, but someone who is more thoughtful and compelling to watch. It’s the kind of older-woman role they’d give to Jane Fonda, or Lily Tomlin, but Smith works perfectly in it because she’s sweet and endearing enough to make her sympathetic enough, but because she’s older and losing her memory, it’s hard to fully trust her. We don’t know if she was a great mom or not; we get the idea that she was a bit forgetful for reasons that become clear to us later, but mostly, we think that she did the best that she could. Like all moms, right?
Geena Davis is also pretty good as the spoiled daughter who, no matter how long life passes her by, can’t seem to get over the past she shares with her mom. It’s a surprisingly annoying and unlikable role from Davis, but she’s more than willing to give it her all. Same goes for Tim Robbins, who plays someone darker than you’d expect. And then, there’s Jon Hamm, who is so perfect as this Prime, you never quite know what he’s thinking at any moment. It’s probably nothing, really, but the idea that he could turn and go bad, is a scary thought and Hamm, in a very stern, serious role, makes you expect the unexpected, just about the whole time.
Consensus: As dark and as weird as it gets, Marjorie Prime is also an interesting, thoughtful, and well-acted meditation on the passage of time, life, death, and the blankets we cover ourselves with to block the inevitable.
6.5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire