+ high-res version

Watched: 15 November

A low-key, slow and satisfying drama that is set 40 or 50 years into the future, at a point when technological developments have enabled humans to live with holographic representations of deceased loved ones, all of which are able to learn and become more realistic through interactions. (Aside from a few minor flourishes the world depicted here is otherwise very similar to our own.) It’s a chamber piece, based on a Pulitzer-winning play and set mostly inside the home of Marjorie (Lois Smith), an 86-year-old woman who is starting to experience bouts of dementia, and whose suffering and decline is clearly being lessened by the presence of a younger, holographic version of her long-dead husband (Jon Hamm), despite reservations held by family members. The film gradually shifts its focus onto her daughter (Geena Davis) and son-in-law (Tim Robbins), and slowly the story reveals various long-buried family secrets, exploring the way that certain events echo across generations. The cast is uniformly excellent, adapting their performances as their roles change due to various plot events, which makes me wonder why we don’t see more of the likes of Smith, Davis and Robbins these days. The film grapples with its themes and ideas – memory repression, misremembered or edited history, AI in the future, tech paranoia, to name but a few – in a way that I found pleasing, and the overall effect is, I suppose, a little bit like Blade Runner 2049 crossed with Black Mirror crossed with Robot And Frank, although it’s much, much subtler and calmer and reflective than the combination of such works might suggest. (****)



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  1. December 13, 2017

    Yeah, good little film this one. I enjoyed it’s low-key approach and the concept was an intriguing one. I had some difficulty with it’s lethargic pace but otherwise, I liked it.

    • Stu #
      December 14, 2017

      It’s very low-key, isn’t it? When they actually briefly show some futuristic technology (e.g. phones) it’s quite surprising. Another really good ensemble cast! Wish we would see more of Robbins in particular in films… he seems to be a bit of a forgotten man these days.

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