Michael Almereyda fans are in luck. In addition to his somewhat hollow showbiz documentary Escapes, this weekend also sees the release of his sci-fi drama Marjorie Prime, which is much more like a spiritual follow-up to his great 2015 Experimenter, set far enough into the future for smartphones to be transparent and for photorealistic holograms called Primes to pass the Turing Test. Walter Prime (Jon Hamm) is a holographic reproduction of the late husband of 86-year-old Marjorie (Lois Smith), whose cognition has been slowly fading. That the Prime is of a decades-younger, Hamm-handsome Walter doesn’t sit well with Marjorie’s daughter Tess (Geena Davis), nor does the fact that that Walter is learning about his real-life counterpart based on Marjorie’s own unreliable recollections, particularly as buried family secrets start to emerge.
Marjorie Prime is a meditation on the unreliability of oral memory, with the wrinkle of how our electronic avatars outlast us, and may augment and replace those memories. (This writer is still Facebook “friends” with at least three recently deceased people, their profiles living on.) Though based on a Pulitzer-adjacent play, the picture plays out more like a 1950s Isaac Asimov short story, especially in its time-jumping third act. Marjorie Prime is ultimately more about its ideas than its characters, but that’s OK, because they’re fascinating ideas.
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.