Friday, November 24

Marjorie Prime - Review

Published: November 24, 2017
By: Katie Sirles | November 24, 2017


R: Select Markets | R: 97 minutes | R: N/A

There are countless inevitablilities in life; disappointment, the start of a new day (should we continue to be so fortunate), the barista spelling your name incorrectly on your cup. These unavoidable parts of life keep us on our toes and give birth to statements like, "If it wasn't this, it would be something else."

Perhaps the most recurring and absolute of these certainties is, naturally, death. As mortals, each and every one of us faces it as something that will happen. Circumstantial and wildly unknown, expiration isn't just for dairy.
As human beings, we're equipped with different emotional ranges and -- as such -- we all cope with passing from one life to the next in our own way. With the impressive strides in technology, we're able to accomplish feats that were unthinkable before. For example, in 2012, at the popular music festival, Coachella, a hologram of deceased rapper Tupac was projected on stage for a performance with Snoop Dogg.

What's to say that a computer couldn't learn the mannerisms of a loved one who has passed away and take on a holographic form designed by the grieving party as a method of dealing with the loss? That's precisely what happens in Marjorie Prime.

Marjorie (Lois Smith) lost her husband, Walter (Jon Hamm) 15 years ago. These days, her days are spent with Walter Prime -- a handsome, 40-year-old projection of her beloved. Her daughter, Tess (Geena Davis) and her son-in-law, John (Tim Robbins), live with her in the gorgeous, serene beach house Walter bought years before.
While Tess has reservations about her digital dad regaling her ailing mother with stories of their salad days, John spends time with him, teaching Walter the memories he shares with Marjorie.
An information sponge, Walter remembers everything he's told to appear as hominid as possible to maintain Marjorie's illusions.

Marjorie Prime is a stunning interpretation of the role memory plays in our lives. Memories -- as they are explained by Tess -- are never exact. Every time we remember something, we're remembering the memory, never the event itself. Like a dream that wakes us suddenly and feels as though it is a permanent fixture in our psyche, it, too will become fuzzy and eventually fade away, leaving only spotty remnants.

I read once, that after heartbreak -- when some time has passed -- the memories that muster overwhelming sentimental strain, will someday illicit different feelings and no longer create the same ache. While my experience with this idea has proven to hold some truth, the levels of relief vary.

This film features sublime, multi-faceted performances while giving each viewer a different experience. It takes on different shapes for everyone because much of it is left open to interpretation. This was evidenced by the Q&A after the film that stage and screen legend Lois Smith took part in. The audience members around me expressed much different sentiments than the ones I felt, and that's a remarkable feat for a film.

To achieve a varied visceral response from each person is something that just doesn't always happen at the movies.
I wanted to ask Lois who would be her date to the Oscars, but I chickened out. That said, my heart will be full on nomination announcement day to see her name on the list.

Rating: 5 out of 5


Katie Katie (Contributor) is a cinephile and Chicago native who has been reviewing film for nearly a decade. Her heroes include Roger Ebert and Jay Sherman -- it stinks!
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