Some people might argue the “Bonnie and Clyde” heist-romance gone wrong trope is overdone — but those people haven’t seen Marmalade.
The film follows the recently incarcerated Baron (Joe Keery) as he tells his new cellmate Otis (Aldis Hodge) the story of how he landed in prison. After revealing his whirlwind romance with Marmalade (Camila Morrone) and their decision to rob a bank, Baron promises Otis a share of the stolen money if he can help him escape prison and reunite with Marmalade.
I really believe Marmalade is one of those films that’s better to just experience with minimal background knowledge, so I’ll keep this brief. Put simply, Marmalade is fun.
Writer/director Keir O’Donnell took the Bonnie-and-Clyde heist/romance concept and gave it a charming, whimsical twist. The unique narrative framing and visual style help set the film in a sort of heightened reality, almost like a fairy tale. The world feels familiar but also entirely its own.
But despite its whimsical nature, Marmalade is also a very self-aware film. It understands the expectations and tropes of the genre and knows how to play with them. This is a movie that delights in taking you down all the paths you expect, then diverting to those you don’t for laughs and twists and turns. Besides the excellent cast, this is really what makes Marmalade stand out – it sets out to be both exactly what you expect and nothing like it at the same time.
And Marmalade really has the perfect cast to pull off this story. Joe Keery brings an endearing and earnest “aw shucks!” charisma to Baron that immediately sells his ill-fated romance. He delivers lines like “You scared the chickens outta me!” and you think yeah, that tracks. This guy should absolutely say stuff like that and mean it.
Camila Morrone serves as the perfect Bonnie to Keery’s Clyde. She makes Marmalade a little strange and a little flighty, with just the right kind of unpredictable energy to give her that edge of danger. You know she’s bad news for Baron, but you completely understand how he gets caught up in her web.
Rounding out the core trio, Aldis Hodge gets some of the biggest laughs of the film in his earliest scenes. Technically he’s a pretty passive character in the beginning, since he’s just reacting to the story Keery’s Baron tells him. But Hodge is 100% committed from the start; his clear investment in Baron and Marmalade’s story helps bring the audience on board, too. When his character gets to take a more active role in the story as the film shifts to focus on the present instead of Baron’s past, he continues to deliver in an entirely new way.
Marmalade is the kind of movie that reminds you why you like watching movies. It immerses you in its story and takes you for a ride from start to finish. The world is fun, the performances are great, and it’s almost certain to surprise you more than once. Basically, when you watch this movie, you’re going to have a good time.
Marmalade premieres in theaters and on demand February 9.