Despite being mostly humorous, this light-hearted suspenseful story clearly draws inspiration from traditional film noir, known for their tales of deceit and naive protagonists lured into criminal acts by seductive women, amidst a backdrop of financial desperation. However, first-time writer and director Keir O’Donnell has added a modern twist with a vibrant color scheme and a self-referential, satirical tone. This should make it more appealing to younger audiences who may not be familiar with iconic films like The Postman Always Rings Twice or Double Indemnity, as well as their remakes or tributes such as Body Heat or Blue Velvet.
O’Donnell has also cast rising Gen-Z star Joe Keery (known for his role as Steve in Stranger Things) as the lead character Baron, a naive young man from the American South who finds himself in a prison cell. His cellmate Otis (played by Aldis Hodge) brags about his skills in escaping, so Baron asks for his help in breaking out and reuniting with his girlfriend Marmalade (portrayed by Camila Morrone). To convince Otis, Baron shares the story of his struggles to take care of his sick mother (played by Susan Brava) and how he couldn’t afford her expensive medication on his salary as a postman. Enter Marmalade, a free-spirited girl who lives in her car and wears unconventional clothing. She suggests robbing a bank to pay for Baron’s mother’s medication and, charmed by her eccentricity and appearance, Baron agrees.
Naturally, a noir story would not be complete without some unexpected turns in the plot, and that is exactly what happens here. While they may require some suspension of disbelief, they are still cleverly executed. But don’t worry, it’s best to simply relax and enjoy the story like you would a luxurious bath. The actors have great chemistry and the ending is unexpectedly moving despite its cheesiness.
On February 12, Marmalade will be available on digital platforms.