Combustible Celluloid
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With: Geena Davis, Lois Smith, Jon Hamm, Tim Robbins, Stephanie Andujar, Azumi Tsutsui
Written by: Michael Almereyda, based on a play by Jordan Harrison
Directed by: Michael Almereyda
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 99
Date: 08/18/2017

Marjorie Prime (2017)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

I Remember Drama

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Michael Almereyda adapts and directs this movie version of a play by Jordan Harrison, wondering what would happen if we had artificial versions of deceased loved ones, infused with their memories. The movie is curious about this question, pondering what memories really are, and where they come from and how they are related to truth. And while all of that is certainly interesting, Marjorie Prime stays a little too much in the intellect, and very little in the heart; it seems to me that memories ought to be connected to both. Nonetheless, that national treasure Lois Smith — who has been around since East of Eden (1955) — has been given a rich role to play and there's talk of her earning her very first Oscar nomination. She's the title character, who speaks with a "prime" of her dead husband (Jon Hamm), while her son (Tim Robbins) and his wife (Geena Davis) worry and talk a lot. The movie plays out in chunks, where, quite suddenly, other "primes" turn up (people die a lot in this movie), and it takes some work getting used to the narrative jerks while attempting to stay immersed in the discourse.

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