One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was writer-director Michael Almereyda’s Marjorie Prime. Based on Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play of the same name, the film stars Jon Hamm, Lois Smith, Geena Davis, and Tim Robbins, it’s a complex and subtle examination of technology that results in a drama somewhere between an episode of Charlie Brooker’s dark tech-series Black Mirror and the intense, Academy Award nominee Fences. The film takes place primarily in one location, and is set in a near future where people can interact with deceased loved ones via holographic projections. Marjorie Prime won the Sloan Feature Film Prize at Sundance this year. The award jury said of the film: “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.”
Here’s how Sundance describes the film:
Eighty-six-year-old Marjorie spends her final, ailing days with a computerized version of her deceased husband. With the intent to recount their life together, Marjorie’s “Prime” relies on the information from her and her kin to develop a more complex understanding of his history. As their interactions deepen, the family begins to develop ever diverging recounts of their lives, drawn into the chance to reconstruct the often painful past.
The day after the world premiere I got to sit down with Jon Hamm, Lois Smith and Director Michael Almereyda for an exclusive video interview. They talked about how the project came together, how Lois Smith portrayed the role on both the stage and screen, memorable moments from filming, how the sci-fi portrayed in the film isn’t far-fetched, what made them want to be in the entertainment industry, and what Lois Smith remembers about making East of Eden with James Dean.