Based on an elegantly chilly Pulitzer-nominated play by ‘Orange Is the New Black’ writer Jordan Harrison, ‘Marjorie Prime’ is science fiction without the spaceships and aliens: you won’t miss them. It concerns a future in which our deceased loved ones are able to sit with us via holographic projections, products of artificial intelligence come to semi-life. Of course, the process isn’t perfect: Jon Hamm (always a little twitchy in his eerie handsomeness) is well cast as Walter, a facsimile of the dead husband of scowling octogenarian Marjorie (Lois Smith, repeating her nuanced off-Broadway triumph). Through her haze of forgetfulness, she still knows this isn’t quite real.
Director Michael Almereyda (maker of the Ethan Hawke-starring ‘Hamlet’) is most comfortable probing the underbelly of leisurely chats, so he’s perfect for what amounts to a feature-length conversation about the fragility of memory. Though visually spare and undistinguished, the movie gets revelatory mileage out of Geena Davis – just as brainy and bruised as she was in her heyday – as Marjorie’s bitter daughter, in need of some post-mortem therapy of her own. It’s a film that doubles and trebles in complexity as it dives inward to a place of strange intimacy, one that’s a lot like Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’: manufactured, yes, but no less affecting for its desperation. ν Joshua Rothkopf