Majorie Prime is a very gentle but powerful film. It examines notions of ageing, loss, relationships and familial connection and how these are governed by the unreliability of memory. In doing this it focuses right in on the essence of humanity and is moving, occasionally challenging and easily relatable to all. That’s not bad for a movie that almost entirely revolves around people sitting on sofas talking to each other. (Its origins as a play are plainly evident.)
Set in a near future Majorie Prime presents us with a world where the bereaved can be comforted by interacting with holographic projections of those they have lost. It sounds like the kind of twisted abuse of a coming technology that the works of Philip K. Dick and William Gibson and the TV show Black Mirror warn of but actually it is handled in such a way that you can see how people could genuinely benefit from this idea. Rather than offering simple companionship these interactive computer programs need to be programmed through their owners talking about the departed loved one so that they can better represent them. This is not a story about dangerous AI. In fact the holograms aren’t really AI at all, they are more a sophisticated set of learning algorithms. It is rather a story about how people live on after death through their history and how in some respects they can become better versions of themselves through other people’s accounts of them. Like all the best science fiction Majorie Prime uses the distancing device of showing an existence unlike our own to make us step away and examine our own existence.
The film features strong performances from Jon Hamm, Lois Smith, Tim Robbins and Geena Davis (who’s campaign to promote better roles for older women has a win here) and the direction from Michael Almereyda is controlled but warm. It is not going to be one of the biggest films of the year but it is more than worth 100 minutes of your time.