Marjorie Prime is a science-fiction movie set in the near future. It’s about an 86-year-old woman (the Marjorie Prime of the title, played by Lois Smith) who has a new companion that is a holographic version of her husband, who has passed away. Played by John Hamm, he acts very human and is touchable, but it’s all very strange. Her daughter (Geena David) and son-in-law (Tim Robbins) are looking after her. As the film progresses, things subtly change, leaving you wondering who is actually real and who us not.
The family relationship with the hologram, and their history together, all comes to a head as the story unfolds. It’s based on a play by Jordan Harrison, and is undeniably a little stagey as it was made on a fairly low budget. However, it’s one of Robbins’ strongest performances in several years, and it’s great to see Geena Davis in something after a long absence. Hamm is excellent as well and it’s one of his most satisfying post-Mad Men roles.
It’s directed by Michael Almereyda. Almereyda is also the author of the script for Cherry 2000, a quirky little movie directed by Steve De Jarnatt, and also a film that deals with artificial intelligence (in the case of his earlier script, robots used as substitutes for wives). He also did some uncredited work on Total Recall, which also touches on themes concerning AI.
It’s kind of a Bergmanesque chamber piece with a science-fiction theme, a very smart take on old age, loneliness, companionship and family with some subtle and clever twists. The film was compared to Black Mirror by some critics, but it’s not as high-concept as Black Mirror—and that’s not a criticism. John Hamm was in the Black Mirror Christmas special, so the link was already there, but it’s an unfair comparison it’s very much its own thing. The release is barebones.