Marmalade Review: Joe Keery Stays Quirky in Stylish New Crime Romp

Marmalade Stars Joe Keery and Camila Morrone and is Directed by Keir O’Donnell

Review: Marmalade isn’t short on style and set pieces. Keir O’Donnell’s directorial debut packs enough narrative turns and endless visual flourishes to last an entire career. Unfortunately, the final product feels overstuffed as a result. Joe Keery and Camila Morrone co-star in an occasionally fun, frustratingly complex crime movie.

marmalade review joe keery 2024 film
Joe Keery in Marmalade

Marmalade is a sometimes whimsical, often convoluted heist movie whose success will ultimately reflect your engagement with the starry cast and their respective characters. Joe Keery headlines the trio of lead performances as the aloof, misguided Baron, serving time in prison for a “Bonnie and Clyde” style scheme to rob a bank with the love of his life Marmalade.

And the titular character is played by Camila Morrone, who often feels as closely aligned with the tone and effervescence of the story. Morrone’s career hasn’t taken off quite like I was hoping coming off similar bubbly performances like Never Goin’ Back in 2018, but she’s clearly still got it. Her constant energy and manic moments provide the baseline for a story wallowing in both excessive stylistic choices and rambunctious narrative decisions.

To be honest, I didn’t care much for Marmalade for many of these reasons, even if Morrone and Aldis Hodge (as Baron’s prison mate Otis) provide some occasional fun. The bombardment of flashy editing and post-production flourishes get painfully bland after the first act, and the story gets messy and unnecessarily clumsy after a while. Baron’s motives and history are revealed as time goes on, and the quote-unquote “plot twists” never really hit their mark.

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Perhaps a lot of this comes down to my disinterest in Joe Keery as an actor. He hasn’t found his angle into a character I’ve genuinely liked in any movie yet, and I found him strikingly miscast in Marmalade. The accent is cartoonish and exhausting, and the revelation of his true character doesn’t fit well with the story that director Keir O’Donnell serves up until the finale. Going in I figured Marmalade would be a middling actor vehicle for Keery, and that’s what it was for the most part, only Keery doesn’t do much to stand out.

Think a significantly less effective Baby Driver, but with a noticeable lack of fun music and clever humor. There’s no equivalent to a Jaime Foxx-type role or Jon Hamm and Jon Bernthal rounding out the edges. I’m not too familiar with Keir O’Donnell’s prior work, but it takes a really energetic, consistently boundary-pushing filmmaker like Edgar Wright to hold an audience’s attention for 90+ minutes using this style. It gets tiresome quickly if you can’t balance the tension with the moments in between big action sequences. Unfortunately, O’Donnell doesn’t quite achieve that as the sub-100 minute runtime feels significantly longer than that.

I was originally drawn to seek out Marmalade because the movie was shot relatively close to where I’m currently residing (which doesn’t happen often in Minnesota), but that intrigue fell to the wayside fast. Again, maybe I’m just not seeing it with Joe Keery. Compound that with a lack of interest in movies that squeeze every last ounce of style out of themselves, and I felt like Marmalade was a popcorn flick that didn’t stick with me once the credits hit. It was too glossy and clean to get under your skin or inhabit your mind.

Rating

Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance

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Marmalade Movie Cast and Credits

marmalade movie poster

Cast

Joe Keery as Baron

Camila Morrone as Marmalade

Aldis Hodge as Otis

Crew

Director: Keir O’Donnell

Writer: Keir O’Donnell

Cinematography: Polly Morgan

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