Thursday, December 28, 2017

'Marjorie Prime' Reflects on Memory; Is Ironically a Forgettable Film

Marjorie Prime is a science fiction drama film set in the near future about an 86-year-old woman named Marjorie (Lois Smith) who is suffering from bouts of dementia.   As means of comfort as well as to help her recollect the past, she constantly talks to an AI that projects the younger appearance of her late husband Walter (Jon Hamm).  Marjorie’s middle-aged daughter Tess (Geena Davis), who has moved in along with her husband Jon (Tim Robbins) to look after her, is unsettled by the setup.  As conversations with Walter deepen, the secrets of a painful past are unraveled, giving them the opportunity for closure.

This is a dialogue-heavy film.  Scene after scene, it’s all about characters talking and talking and talking.  And as a result, it can get boring and a tad pretentious.  But this is one of those films that floats and sinks with the quality of the acting and dialogue, and I think it mostly floats; the cast and the script make the film watchable till the end.

Love, family, relationships, death, coping, and letting go are some of the themes that this film reflects on.  But, for me, its most thought-provoking reflection is on memory.  It raises interesting questions as well as insights about how memories are constructed and how those constructed memories can be valuable to a person.

Marjorie Prime may have been originally a stage play, but I think it’s as a movie where it’s more realized.  The technical aspects of film allow the story to have a more intimate delivery, making it the most beautiful and poignant as it can possibly be.  However, even at its best form, I don’t feel it yields any lasting impact.  In the end, it will probably be forgotten like a sweet but fleeting memory.

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