Marmalade is one of those films where there’s a lot of interesting parts to it, but the sum does not quite equal these parts. It’s shot in a really dynamic, propulsive way, which is fitting since this is a heist flick of sorts. The main actors onboard are decent, and there are multiple twists built into the story. The main issue is that everything hinges on the big, final twist, and it makes what came before feel kind of hollow.
Joe Keery plays Baron, a naive, gullible postal worker, who gets fired from his job because he refused to cut his hair. I wonder if it’s a prerequisite that Keery’s hair be the centrepiece of every project he’s a part of. Keery does a competent job as the guileless Baron, but I think I would love to see him in a more complex role, especially one where he gets to use his charm. Keery is such a charismatic actor, and it’s a shame we only get to see that towards the end of the movie.
Baron is struggling financially, and it comes to a point where he can’t afford the medicine his sick mother needs. This is when Marmalade (Camila Morrone) enters his life, her pink-dyed hair and shockingly pink coat bringing some much needed colour into his life. Morrone is a star, and I pretty much said the same thing before in my review for Daisy Jones & The Six. She goes all out as Baron’s manic pixie dream girl, and truly commits to the role as an unhinged sexpot.
They’re both one-note characters though, and so the first two-thirds of the movie is just filled with them interacting in a superficial way, as well as eating ice cream in the most abominable way possible. Marmalade claims to love Baron yet calls him her “puppet”, and it’s the kind of manipulation that feels too obvious, even for someone as dimwitted as Baron. Baron’s entire relationship with Marmalade is not unfolding in real time, it’s a story he’s sharing with his fellow inmate Otis (Aldis Hodge). It’s fairly entertaining to have Otis interrupt the story at times, like when Baron’s getting a bit too hot and heavy in his narration of him and Marmalade’s escapades. The relationship between Otis and Baron is probably the most authentic one in the entire film, which won’t quite make sense until we get to the twist.
Maybe I’ve watched too many movies in my lifetime, but I saw the twist coming a mile away. The fact that Marmalade chooses a mask of many faces kind of signposts duplicity, and the sudden tango in the middle of the street between Marmalade and Baron more or less gave things away. I understand why the characters are so shallowly developed, because the twist calls for it, but then this gives the viewer nothing to latch on to as I watch Baron and Marmalade do one bland thing after the other. Even the heist itself isn’t anything exciting, since Marmalade has all the knowledge, and all we do as an audience is watch her run in and run out with a bag full of money.
This movie had so much potential, but isn’t quite as inventive as it wants to be.
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The movie's shot well, and the actors do what they're supposed to do, but a film's twist isn't supposed to be the only exciting part of the entire film.
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