Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a private investigator of the mind, navigates the darkly alluring world of the past by helping his clients access lost memories. Living on the fringes of the sunken Miami coast, his life is forever changed when he takes on a new client, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson). A simple matter of lost and found becomes a dangerous obsession. As Bannister fights to find the truth about Mae’s disappearance, he uncovers a violent conspiracy, and must ultimately answer the question: how far would you go to hold on to the ones you love?
What We Thought:
The best word to describe Reminiscence is interesting. It’s a very interesting movie. It mixes classic noir with science fiction and touches on issues like climate change and money without beating you over the head with a message. Overall I enjoyed the movie, but I also know it’s a hard sell to mainstream audiences despite Hugh Jackman as the lead. Jackman is a big name actor with a following, but I can’t see the movie doing much at the box office unfortunately.
The film takes place in a sort of post-apocalyptic Miami. It’s been taken over by water with the rich living in the dry area and the rest of humanity just trying to survive. There was a war that is mentioned that isn’t 100% explained, but I’m ok with that. Jackman plays a veteran of that war who uses a machine to access memories. People pay to relive good times or the police hire him to help pull information out of suspects. Thandiwe Newton works with him and she is also a veteran of the war.
Then everything changes when Rebecca Ferguson walks in. She wants Jackman to use his machine so she can remember where her keys are. She lost them and she thinks he can help her. In classic noir she’s the “dame”, the woman who needs rescuing. Jackman falls for her, they start dating and she disappears. Jackman is obsessed with her (and understandable so!) and when a job with the police brings her to light, his investigation into her disappearance sends him to New Orleans and back to Miami. Ferguson’s Mae character has a past and for most of the movie you can’t quite tell if she’s on the up & up. Is she playing Jackman? Is she just caught in a bad situation? The film unfolds and gives a pretty satisfying conclusion to the story.
I love noir and I love science fiction. Very few times have these genres mixed well. Blade Runner automatically comes to mind and it should. This movie feels like a Philip K. Dick story. It leans heavily towards Minority Report with the science fiction, but it’s that mix of noir that really makes it unique. It’s the directorial debut of Lisa Joy who created the TV series Westworld with her husband Jonathan Nolan. You can feel that Westworld influence not only with cast members (Newton and Angela Sarafyan), but also the vibe, setting and costuming of the movie. It’s science fiction, but Ferguson plays a lounge singer type with dresses to match the dame persona. Jackman wears a classic trenchcoat a PI or detective would have worn back in the day and he does a noir narration throughout as well. You’re either going to love it all or it’s not your cup of tea.
Reminiscence is a film I can definitely see myself watching again. Jackman, Ferguson and Newton are all great in their roles and the setting and vibe really worked for me. I do think it could have used about a 15 minute trim to tighten up the ending, but for something I knew nothing about going into, I enjoyed it. I definitely see Lisa Joy getting attention for it and if Marvel, DC, Star Wars and other big properties don’t come calling for her I’d be surprised.
Director: Lisa Joy
Writer: Lisa Joy
Producers: Lisa Joy, Jonathan Nolan, Michael De Luca, Aaron Ryder
Executive Producers: Athena Wickham, Elishia Holmes, Scott Lumpkin
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Marina de Tavira, Daniel Wu, Mojean Aria, Brett Cullen, Natalie Martinez, Angela Sarafyan, Nico Parker
Run Time: 116 minutes