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‘Marmalade’ digital review: Dir. Keir O’Donnell (2024)

by Kat Hughes

The Australian born Keir O’Donnell has been a mainstay of movies as an actor for over twenty years. Now though he turns his attention to writing and directing with his debut feature, Marmalade, about to hit digital platforms. 

Marmalade joins Joe Keery’s Baron, a recently incarcerated young man. In his cell he meets Otis (Aldis Hodge) who is determined to break out of prison. Baron too has a need to escape as he is set to rendezvous with his beloved Marmalade (Camila Morrone). In order to prove his worth, Otis demands that Baron tell him his story. As Baron recounts the events that lead to his detainment, the two men begin to bond. Can Otis help Baron get back to his love?

Keir O’Donnell’s debut is a heady mix of whimsy and crime noir. It taps into everything from Bonnie and Clyde and The Shawshank Redemption, to Wild Things and One Night at McCool’sMarmalade is a cocktail of a little bit of everything, garnished with some cartoonish decorations. As Baron recounts his story, he adds in little flourishes, which O’Donnell manifests physically. For example, as Marmalade herself is introduced, aspects about her are changed as Baron gives more detail, so her hair goes from marmalade orange to strawberry pink. These little additions add a quirky veil to the story and serve to remind the viewer that the narrative that is unfolding is one being overseen and controlled by Baron. It makes for a clever plot device that pays off dividends as Marmalade progresses. 

The cast is kept small and tight with each cast member contributing to conjuring the almost alt-world environment needed for the whimsical elements to be cohesive. Joe Keery is a standout, his portrayal of dreamer Baron a far cry from Steve in Stranger Things. It is not the first time that he has gone against that personna – see Spree. Marmalade gives Keery the opportunity to prove he is more than a one-character actor. Granted, his easy charisma remains, but Baron is a far more naive and trusting type, and it is these traits that leaves him open to the charms of Marmalade. As the title character, Camila Morrone is part manic-pixie-dream girl, part unhinged outlaw. Morrone swirls them together, creating an intoxicating character whose allure is plain to see. She presents the sheltered Baron with excitement and adventure, and the viewer gets swept along for the journey too. 

Marmalade is a film hard to properly categorise. In the beginning it appears to be easy to figure out, but the further it progresses, the more it transforms and evolves into something different. A film to keep the viewer guessing, Marmalade has plenty of tricks and treats up its sleeve. 

Marmalade

Kat Hughes

Marmalade

Summary

With a fantastic performance from Joe Keery, Marmalade uses its whimsical charm to freshen up an otherwise somewhat familiar tale. 

4

Signature Entertainment presents Marmalade on Digital Platforms from 12th February 2024.

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