Marjorie Prime: NZIFF Review
Initially reminiscent of a premise from Black Mirror, Experimenter director Michael Almereyda's Marjorie Prime is more a story of the cadences of reflections and memories than a sci-fi warning as its premise may suggest.
Holographic companions inhabit homes keeping people and memories alive for those left behind.
One of those is Marjorie (veteran actress Lois Smith) whose companion Walter is a younger version of her husband and whose interactions help with the demons of dementia.
Fussing around is her daughter (Geena Davis) who's wary of the tech and her husband (Tim Robbins) who believes the tech has a purpose.
What initially promises to be a spiky clash of beliefs melts into a reflective discourse on memories, their continuation and their place in the face of ageing and ultimately, death. Almereyda's desire to stack the deck with a mournful tone and a shifting of timelines brings varying effects to the film and will largely be as resonant as the mood you're in.
Dialogue heavy and with philosophical ruminations, Marjorie Prime is slow cinema. With Micah Levi's string heavy score piercing through the tone and building it further, the edges come a little more to the fore.
"The more we talk, the more real it will be," is a line spoken by one human to a prime hologram and there's certainly a feeling that the discussion and nature of memory is what propels this through.
But what also grounds it are the concerns we all share and the fears we all face as time goes on.
While the vignettes and interactions are the main driver of this, an excellently underplayed cast help bring large swathes of it to life, even when the pace slows to a near crawl. Surrendering to the melancholic and maudlin rhythms and applying your own beliefs will mean you get the most from Marjorie Prime -it'll certainly help spark a discussion and a re-examining of one's self afterwards.