Marjorie Prime

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Marjorie Prime
Marjorie Prime.jpg
Directed by Michael Almereyda
Produced by Uri Singer
Screenplay by Michael Almereyda
Based on Marjorie Prime
by Jordan Harrison
Music by Mica Levi
Cinematography Sean Price Williams
Edited by Kathryn J. Schubert
BB Film Productions
Distributed by FilmRise
Release date
  • January 23, 2017 (2017-01-23) (Sundance)
  • August 18, 2017 (2017-08-18) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Marjorie Prime is an American science-fiction film written and directed by Michael Almereyda, based on Jordan Harrison's play of the same name. It stars Jon Hamm, Tim Robbins, Geena Davis, and Lois Smith.[1] Footage was screened for buyers at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival.[2] It premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.[3][4]


In a future around 2050, 85-year old Marjorie (Smith) is experiencing the first symptoms of Alzheimer. To bring her comfort, her daughter Tess (Davis) and son-in-law Jon (Robbins) hire a service called Prime, designed to aid Alzheimer patients by creating holographic projections of deceased family members in order to "feed" them with memories as well as storing others, so they can "retell" them back in case the patient forgets them. Marjorie has chosen a younger version of her late husband Walter (Hamm), who passed away fifteen years ago. This choice disturbs Tess, as she does not trust the system's functionalities and therefore does not talk to Walter's hologram.

Soon, Julie (Andujar), Marjorie's caretaker, moves in with the family to watch over her and confides in Walter. Marjorie tells stories of her life to Walter Prime, and enjoys listening to him tell them back. Sometimes she asks him to embellish a story to make it better the next time he tells it, so the new story will become her new memory.

Walter Prime becomes curious about the real Walter's personal and professional lives and starts asking Jon about it. He appears to desire to know the reason why he couldn't tell his children how much he loved them. Jon tells Walter Prime a family secret who must never be repeated to Marjorie: she and Walter had a son named Damian who committed suicide forty years earlier, and before doing so, he killed the beloved family dog Toni II (a black French poodle who looked just like the family's old dog, Toni) to take her with him. Because of this, Marjorie hasn't said Damian's name since then. Despite Walter Prime's understanding about not telling her, Marjorie suddenly asks for Damian in a bout of dementia. Tess finds a Bible in the living room table and accuses Julie (who had given it to Marjorie) of taking advantage of Marjorie's condition to religiously manipulate her (since Marjorie has always been an atheist), which prompts Marjorie to urinate herself.

Later on, Tess and Marjorie are sitting on the couch talking. It is soon revealed that Marjorie has died, and Tess is talking to a Prime version of her; Jon recommended the Prime Program for his wife in order to help her cope with the death of her mother. Tess remains highly skeptical of the Prime program, especially because Marjorie Prime is constantly smiling and appears to be too understanding to really impersonate Marjorie's real personality. This leads Tess to realize she has chosen the aged version of her mother because this is the version she still has things she needs to say to. Meanwhile, in a flashback to when Walter was alive, he and his daughter are sitting on the couch watching the nightly news which shows “The Gates”, an art exhibit by Christo and Jean-Claude that ran in Central Park during February 2005. As was explained in an earlier scene, this is shortly after Walter and Marjorie’s son, Damian, commits suicide and kills Toni II. Walter and his daughter become emotional and embrace one another.

Sometime later, Jon is talking to Tess in the living room. It is then revealed it is a Prime version of her; a year has passed and Tess, apparently still unable to deal with Marjorie's death, has hanged herself during a vacation in Madagascar. Jon brings Tess' granddaughter to meet Tess Prime because she never met the real Tess while she was alive due to Tess' estrangement from her daughter.

Years later, Tess' granddaughter is grown up and Jon is very old. In the house's living room, Walter Prime, Marjorie Prime, and Tess Prime talk about the old days, reliving old memories. They discuss a memory of the dog Toni, believing Tess was the one who picked him out. Walter tells them that Tess didn't pick Toni: Damian did. He picked her because she looked like their old dog, also named Toni, who died before Tess was born and whom she never knew existed. After hearing the story, Marjorie and Tess can remember Damian too. As Walter apologizes for saddening them, Marjorie responds by saying the only thing she can think of is "how nice that we could love somebody".


Lois Smith at the international premiere of Marjorie Prime


FilmRise acquired distribution rights to the film after its premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.


Marjorie Prime received critical acclaim. It holds a "certified fresh" approval rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 80 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Intimate in setting yet ambitious in scope, the beautifully acted Marjorie Prime poses thought-provoking questions about memory, humanity, and love."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film won the Sloan Feature Film Prize, which includes a $20,000 cash award, presented at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The award jury awarded the film for its "imaginative and nuanced depiction of the evolving relationship between humans and technology, and its moving dramatization of how intelligent machines can challenge our notions of identity, memory and mortality.”[7] The jury members were: Heather Berlin, Tracy Drain, Nell Greenfieldboyce, Nicole Perlman, and Jennifer Phang.[8]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
Gotham Independent Film Awards November 27, 2017 Best Actress Lois Smith Nominated [9]
Independent Spirit Awards March 3, 2018 Best Supporting Female Lois Smith Nominated [10][11]
Satellite Awards February 10, 2018 Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Lois Smith Won [12]
Saturn Awards June 2018 Best Supporting Actress Lois Smith Nominated [13]


  1. ^ Ford, Rebecca (October 7, 2015). "Tim Robbins Joins Jon Hamm in 'Marjorie Prime' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 13, 2016. 
  2. ^ Ford, Rebecca (February 12, 2016). "First Look: Jon Hamm, Tim Robbins Have Familial Face-Off in 'Marjorie Prime' (Exclusive Photo)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 13, 2016. 
  3. ^ Patten, Dominic (December 5, 2016). "Sundance 2017: Robert Redford, New Rashida Jones Netflix Series, 'Rebel In The Rye' & More On Premiere, Docu, Midnight & Kids Slates". Deadline Hollywood. 
  4. ^ "Marjorie Prime". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved January 18, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Marjorie Prime (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved February 14, 2018. 
  6. ^ "Marjorie Prime reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 14, 2018. 
  7. ^ Gans, Andrew (January 25, 2017). "'Marjorie Prime' Wins Feature Film Prize at Sundance". Playbill. 
  8. ^ "Sloan Science & Film". Retrieved 2017-02-03. 
  9. ^ Erbland, Kate (19 October 2017). "'Get Out' Leads 2017 Gotham Awards Nominations". IndieWire. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  10. ^ Lewis, Hilary (November 21, 2017). "2018 Independent Spirit Award Nominations Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 21, 2017. 
  11. ^ Nyren, Erin (March 3, 2018). "2018 Independent Spirit Awards: Winners List". Variety. Retrieved March 3, 2018. 
  12. ^ Pond, Steve (November 28, 2017). "'Dunkirk,' 'The Shape of Water' Lead Satellite Award Nominations". TheWrap. Retrieved November 29, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Here Are The 44th Annual Saturn Awards Nominations". Blending Cool. March 15, 2018. Retrieved 2018-03-16. 

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