Marjorie Prime
Year:
2017
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Comedy
IMDB rating:
6.3
Director:
Michael Almereyda
Hong-An Tran as Adult Granddaughter
Bill Walters as Old Jon
Azumi Tsutsui as 2nd Generation Majorie, age 30
Hannah Gross as Young Marjorie
Leslie Lyles as Mrs. Salveson
Geena Davis as Tess
Lois Smith as Marjorie
Jon Hamm as Walter
Storyline: In the near future, a time of artificial intelligence: 86-year-old Marjorie has a handsome new companion who looks like her deceased husband and is programmed to feed the story of her life back to her. What would we remember, and what would we forget, if given the chance?
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Reviews
Compelling and original premise at the outset. However, the actors are much better than the play they act in, after all. Not as thought provoking as one might assume
Saw this at the Rotterdam film festival 2017 (website: iffr.com). It all started as a compelling and original premise, but I got lost underway about what it all meant story-wise speaking. A lot of talking, but I still don't know what makes everyone tick.

On the other hand, we were made aware that manipulating the past is one of the prime issues at hand, once you are given the opportunity to re-make idealized versions of deceased relatives, and to even improve on them by planting memories that are not completely true to reality (every now and then we hear the words "I'll remember it now"). Could have been thought provoking, but I lost my interest halfway the running time.

All in all, the actors are much better than the play they act in. The festival visitors ranked this movie a bit better than halfway at the 57th (out of 172) place for the audience award, with score 4.009 (out of 5).
2017-02-08
A movie about processing grief
The sci-fi context is irrelevant in this film. It's just an excuse to get people to talk, and see how they each process grief. How everyone deal with their own sadness and sorrow, and how they confront or do not confront them.

There is no plot, or big reveal, or secret that we uncover at the end. This is purely about human sentiment. It's as real as it gets. Simple, and painful.

I'm not sure if I was bored or fascinated during my viewing. The movie, if we pay attention to it and not to our phone, can strike a chord. I'd guess especially if you ever had to deal with life shattering grief at some point in your life.
2017-10-11
Solid sci-fi coming to terms with flawed memory.
"The future will be here soon enough, you might as well be friendly with it." Marjorie (Lois Smith)

Of my many blessings, memory is not the precise gift of most of my friends. I do excel at giving my impressions rather than facts, a talent itself not always impressive. The slow-moving but serious sci-fi drama, Marjorie Prime, treats a time in the near future when holograms can be created to simulate the presence of loved ones who have died.

As in Spike Jonze's Her, technology is friend and foe at the same time. Such a hologram re-creation is fraught with problems, not the least of which is supplying the creation with accurate memories. Those are as imperfect as William James predicted in his repetitive-copying description, where memories leave accuracy behind with each re-recollection.

This film, an adaptation of Jordan Harrison's Pulitzer nominee, starring Lois Smith in the titular role of an 85 year old calling forth her former husband as a middle-aged man, gently makes that point with the hologram, Walter (Jon Hamm). It asks for information or clarification, moments that break the intimacy spell to remind the living that their loving creations are just that: "I'll remember that now," says stoic, affectless Walter.

Director/writer Michael Almereyda takes the Walter hologram into a static interpretation that belies the humanity and emphasizes the robotic nature of the creation. Emotion is missing, that ineffable element of loving so more important than the physical. In that regard the film succeeds in showing the second-rate nature of remembering facts when juxtaposed with emotion. As an imperfect memorist, I feel much better.

The placid sea-side setting, shot in muted color on Long Island, with the water as emblem of the fluid nature of memory, is effective for relaying the elusive nature of that faculty: "The stream of thought flows on; but most of its segments fall into the bottomless abyss of oblivion. Of some, no memory survives the instant of their passage. Of others, it is confined to a few moments, hours or days. Others, again, leave vestiges which are indestructible, and by means of which they may be recalled as long as life endures." William James

Although Marjorie interacts with more than one hologram (certainly most lives have layers of past loved ones to be recalled if needed), the film accomplishes making us aware of the complex business of remembering, its imperfection, and its reflection of our own uncertain place in the memory of humanity.
2017-09-20
Holograms at Home
Wow, I just saw this film at the San Francisco Film Festival and it blew my mind, as we used to say.

Very powerful story that sneaks up on you and by the end takes you further than you thought it would at the beginning. Intense if you have experienced deaths in the family or just aging and loss of memory. Some people in the audience openly sobbing or sniffling by the end.

Takes you on an almost psychedelic mental journey, if you are open to it and allow yourself to contemplate your own relationships. Felt therapeutic and mind-altering. I was definitely in an altered state as I stumbled out of the theater. The future felt close at hand....

I'm still a bit stunned as I write this. Kudos to the writer/director and all the actors.
2017-04-09
Intriguing if overly ambitious sci-fi about memory & loss
Michael Almereyda's adaptation of Jordan Harrison's Pulizer Prize nominated play is an intriguing bit of sci-fi lite. MARJORIE PRIME begins almost as if it were a ghost story. Marjorie (a superb Lois Smith) is sitting with her deceased husband Walter Jon Hamm) for a chat. Marjorie is a very elderly and frail woman suffering the infirmaries of old age including bouts of severe memory loss. Walter is an A.I. Hologram (called a Prime) programmed to look and relate as her spouse. Significantly, Marjorie has chosen to be with the Walter of his 40-something appearance.

In keeping with the A.I. theme, the Primes are set up to continually learn from the information that it is told, hears, sees and experiences in order to became more and more like the human it is replacing. Majorie's daughter Tess (Geena Davis) and son-in-law Jon (Tim Robbins) are also present in order to care for Marjorie - and, to advance Walter Prime's learning curve. At first, Tess and Jon's presence comes off as a bit of an intrusion in the Marjorie-Walter Prime futuristic ghost story, but, it soon develops that there are a couple of more complications that their presence is meant to convey. There are a couple of other minor characters, but, this is essentially a four person play, as befits its stage origins (Almereyda's attempts to 'open up' the adaptation are fairly minor and not all that effective save for some flashbacks).

As the movie progresses, a few more layers are revealed. But, although there are some nice nuances, they don't always advance our understanding of the themes of memory and loss that are at the heart of the story. Some of the later revelations seem more redundant than illuminating. At a sparse 98 minutes (including credits) this is a case where the slim running time isn't long enough to explore its ambitions. Almereyda's screenplay does give greater depth to the sci-fi underpinnings than the play supposedly did. But, those expecting a straight sci-fi tale will likely be somewhat disappointed (even though it takes place in an unspecified future, everyone wears modern clothes, drive current-day cars etc. The only sci-fi accessory is a clear plastic card cellphone). But, those elements aren't at the heart of the movie. It's an engagingly intimate tale with a lovely central performance.
2017-08-28
Gets the cerebral mind thinking
This review of Marjorie Prime is spoiler free

**** (4/5)

WITH COMPUTERS ADVANCING, newer mobile devices being released at least three times a year and the chance of having a robot in our home quickly dawning. This brings the question; is the world of the sci-fi genre truly taking over the way people feel, with grief, love, humanity and memory? Well, with the latest instalments of sci-fi films such as Spike Jonze's 'Her', Alex Garland's 'Ex Machina' or perhaps as recent as this October with Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner 2049' the possibility of a cerebral mind taking over the world could be sooner than once thought. Or it could even be happening right now - the fact is we just wouldn't know it.

Welcome Michael Almereyda's adaptation of Jordan Harrison's Pulitzer-nominated study of memory, grief and love Marjorie Prime. Set in a future when death doesn't have to be the end, an elderly woman named Marjorie (Lois Smith) spends her final, ailing days with a younger holographic projection of her late husband Walter (Jon Hamm), spending as much time as possible conversing about the complex structure of memory and how much it can affect us the older we get. On paper, the film's plot is simple weaving between the memories she had with her daughter (Geena Davis) who hates the holographic being of her father, her career as a violinist, to dealing with grief after the death of her husband. However, under the paper Almereyda keeps you thinking as he carefully constructs thought-provoking questions of memory, grief, family, humanity and loss. Much like 'Her', he spends his time delving deeper into the complexity of the human mind, digging it out piece by piece delivering every piece on a silver platter leaving you to think about the pieces he leaves behind.

Visual-wise, there's not much to look at aside from the holographic projection of Walter, it's not like 'Blade Runner 2049' where there's CG imagery popping out at every corner of the screen. Almereyda keeps it visually sparse keeping your eyes fixed on one special effect. And Sean Prince's stunningly serene airy cinematography is fluid and varied enough to enchant through minimalist yet stunning chamber rooms to prevent the stage bound feel. While Marjorie Prime is a slow-burning conversational piece and may not be to everyone's taste, it's an intelligent, powerfully quiet and soulful piece that will keep you asking in-depth questions about the fragile construction of the human mind playing on history, emotions and humanity it'll be almost too hard to forget.

VERDICT Hamm and Smith are stunning in an unforgettable quietly poignant sci-fi breathing in fresh thought-provoking questions about humanity and feelings.
2017-11-10
Great Science Fiction concept, but with all the great talent I thought it would be less boring.
I'm think Black Mirror had an episode just like this (in fact I'm sure of it). If you have not seen Black Mirror you should see it before you watch  this film (or just watch Black Mirror instead)

So Basically,in the future, technology has gotten to the point that an old woman can own technology that can make a hologram that replicates her dead husband.

It's a lot like Black Mirror in two ways: Rather than create a hologram that reflected who her husband was when he died, she created one to reflect the man who asked her hand in marriage 30 years ago (played by Jon Hamm). Apparently her husband did not age well (Due to a large age gap between them) , so she picked the man she met in the turning of the century. It does not help that she is coming down with Alzheimer's so she might not (but more like chose not to) remember the older version, but those around her did, like her daughter,played by Gena Davis who hates the technology and how it allows her mother to live in a lie of her own fragile mind, and her husband, played by Tim Robbins, who sees the advantages of using the tech to make her feel better, to the point that he feeds information to the hologram to make it a better version of her late husband.

The other way it's like Black Mirror is how flawed the advance technology is. The more you talk to the hologram the more like the person it mimics it becomes. The Hologram hits a snag when you come across three different people who have different memories of the man being mimicked and it does not help when one is not a fan of the tech in the first place, and the other is feeding it info she's not even sure about. In this case, Marjorie Prime contemplate using tech to replace the void left by those who pass, but not much a fan of how it's done.

Marjorie Prime gives out good ideas in this slightly Sci-Fi concept based on a play, which they try to replicate on the big screen.

In reality, I wish that this was an episode of Black Mirror. It feels like a good attempt to mimic the show, but it's not the best. The large amount of well known actors does not do anything to make the movie give you any sort of feelings.
2017-09-20
Not that compelling
There was a lot of posturing for this movie really got going.

It wasn't until an hour in before my imagination was twigged.

And then the movie was over.

So a painful run up that had me almost turn the film off, then a meander into a compelling story line.

It was painful the first hour, so dry and uninviting. There's not much to get into in the first half of the movie, but then the twist is shown and partially developed just to end suddenly.

Disappointing really, where there was potential, it seems as if this film never really got there.

A poor mans black mirror, which should have focused on the more compelling story line, that only really takes shape in the second half of the film.

They also referenced the film "her" in promotional materials, but this film doesn't really compare to the far more complete movie "her".

5/10
2017-10-03
perennity
'Marjorie Prime' can be considered a science fiction film of a particular kind. The director of the film is Michael Almereyda, is 58 years old and without being one of Hollywood's most celebrated names, he has a diverse and exciting cinematographic record that includes action and vampire movies' a 'Hamlet' placed in New York City today and a fairly successful romantic story happening in a New Orleans who is trying to get back to normal after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. This story is about a well-placed family that lives in the near future somewhere on the ocean, and uses hologram and avatars technology to bring a younger incarnation of the long-dead husband to an old and Alzheimer's disease affected mother, trying to bring back from past memories about events and experiences.

A lot and very little is known about this terrible neuro-degenerative disease. Diagnosis and symptoms are becoming better known in the smallest details. The population of the globe is aging, and with it the percentage of affected people has grown spectacularly over the last decades. The exact causes are unknown or not elucidated to the end. Heredity plays an important role in 70% of cases, but it is not the only source. Treatments do not yet exist, not even in the near future world imagined in 'Marjorie Prime'. What is proposed at the beginning of the main heroine film is not a healing treatment, but a slowing down of the advance of the disease and an attempt to temporarily remedy the situation by refreshing the memory. The appearance of seemingly real people, frozen in time at a certain age, does not, however, remain without impact on other members of the family. As time passes, other family members begin to need the avatars company. Biological mechanisms continue to do their job, while their virtual partners remain immune to disease or aging. But not in their capabilities. The screenwriters equipped the avatars in 'Marjorie Prime' with cognitive expansion. In other words, avatars learn, enrich their information about their own past (in fact, about the people they represent virtually), and thus improve their interaction and relationships with other people and with each other.

As the action progresses, the questions that we can ask multiply. In fact, what are we, people? body? thoughts? an entity that some call soul? Or are we just the memories we leave behind? I will not reveal more because I do not want to take the pleasure of watching those who decide to watch this movie. It can be interpreted as a parable. Perhaps it is about the perennial character of human beings, or of mankind itself. In a world where wealth is getting better and acquiring features that include learning and self-improvement, is there room for people? Because the robots have the potential to overcome the goals we have created, to help people and expand their physical and intellectual forces, and become competitors to the planet's limited resources. When is this threshold crossed? Perhaps it is actually about the perennial character of the human species in another form of incarnation? The film has an end that some will find pessimistic, but I'm not one of them. From the cinefil's point of view, I admired the clever writing story (adaptation of Jordan Harrison's play) and the exceptional play of Lois Smith, Tim Robbins, Geena Davis. Recommended!
2017-11-21
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