Geena Davis Steals the Scenery in Talky Sci-fi Drama

Davis with Tim Robbins
Photo courtesy of Passage Pictures

By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief

Palisadian Geena Davis was not elected as only the second actress, after Bette Davies, to become president of the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, much to the outrage of some readers of the Palisadian-Post.

Maybe that is all for the best as, if the reviews are any indicator, she is in the Oscar frame once again for her role in a low-budget sci-fi rumination called “Marjorie Prime.”

Oscars are won for many reasons, including voter guilt and a long run of worthy but overlooked performances, and Davis has both, despite the fact that IMDBPro suggests that she is still best known for “Beetlejuice.”

“Beetlejuice” is an enduring joy, there may be a sequel with fellow part-time Palisadian Michael Keaton (Hi, Michael—welcome!), but where is “Thelma & Louise,” “A League of Their Own” or her terrifying work in the recent TV reboot of “The Exorcist.”

The blurb about “Marjorie” says that, in the near future, an elderly lady employs a young replicant of her deceased husband who learns and replays the story of their life together.

But what do we want to remember?

The remarkable Lois Smith is, at 86, playing two years older than herself (oh, Hollywood ageism) and Tim Robbins is her son-in-law who recruits the android story-spinner played by Jon Hamm.

Hamm’s career gets more interesting the further away from that “Mad Men” polished mannequin he rows.

And yet, despite the competition, Vanity Fair writes, Davis as the daughter Tess, unpicking the unreliable narratives on show, steals every scene with a potent mixture of emotional intelligence and intellectual rigor.

This is a talk-heavy two hours based on an off-Broadway play, so don’t expect ray guns, “Ex Machina”/“Westworld” robot rampages or even the cinematic majesty of last year’s gut-wrenching wonder “Arrival.”

But if you seek something thoughtful and fresh, something that marks out the clear blue water between TV and cinema, something to enjoy in air-conditioned focus, remember the name: “Marjorie Prime.”

“Marjorie Prime” is in limited release across Los Angeles from Aug. 18.