MARJORIE PRIME: simply a masterclass in the application(s) of film form. Shot selection, cutting, production design, sound design, and performance are all put to miraculous use in adapting what might have been a merely-decent play. I had to think of Resnais (most of whose finest late works were adaptations of plays). And it would seem Almereyda wanted me to. Pretty sure there's a straight shout-out to Marienbad.
Jean Baudrillard's fourth order of simulacra, the movie. "The fourth stage is pure simulation, in which the simulacrum has no relationship to any reality whatsoever. Here, signs merely reflect other signs and any claim to reality on the part of images or signs is only of the order of other such claims." A fascinating meditation on the upcoming post-human future that feels like a long episode of Black Mirror.
I think this is Almereyda's most satisfying film even though the detatched aesthetic might be a major turnoff to most. The purpose is eventually revealed in the equally minimalist performances that become more affecting as the film goes on.
A very talky film that sticks too close the play with very little camera movement and a plodding, even pace. The performances are reasonable and the ocean backdrop highly effective as an evocative motif for the eternal passing of time. By the end things come together beckoning the viewer to look within and contemplate their own life purpose. 3 stars
“Marjorie Prime”, which has a play by Jordan Harrison as its source, is a no-nonsense exercise full of demonstrative close-ups, in which deceitful specters are imagined to ease empty, lost souls. (3.5 stars)
3/4. The screener copy I received has text flash across the screen that says "Do Not Duplicate" which may have been more thematically resonant than they intended. This movie is much weirder than I anticipated. Losing a memory of someone who has died is like losing them all over again.
Marjorie Prime's ideas are far more interesting than its execution. Based on a stage play, we get the sense that this material would work much better there. As a film, Marjorie Prime is basic and unmotivated. The performances are all great, but would have probably served better on a stage. As a film, we can only really look at the decisions made cinematically and there really aren't many. It's flat and unengaging.
Gertrude Stein was taking James' philosophy course at Harvard. And she hadn't studied. So she writes in the final exam: "I'm sorry, but I do not feel like a philosophy exam today." And she turns in the exam and walks out. And William James writes: "I know exactly how you feel." and he gives her an A.