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Nostalgia has always been a powerful lure for those who seek it. In the world of writer/director Lisa Joy’s Reminiscence, that power is amped to the extreme, as a future sees human society looking to forget their troubles through their past triumphs. Blending her professed love of film noir and cutting edge sci-fi, Joy has delivered the goods in a movie that’s unlike anything you’ve seen in some time. And with Hugh Jackman masterfully headlining a notable cast of actors, this story lands like a bittersweet dream.
In fact, it’s Jackman’s protagonist of Nicholas Bannister that really ties together the worlds in which Reminiscence plays around. A veteran of a future war and living in a Miami ravaged by climate change, Bannister helps people relive their best days through advanced technology that can help people re-inhabit their memories. Embodying a perfect noir protagonist, Hugh Jackman goes from being a man in control to someone totally obsessed. And naturally, it’s because of a mysterious woman who drifts into his life, knocking the protagonist out of his usual orbit of control.
As he falls for Mae (Rebecca Ferguson), a client whose disappearance triggers one hell of a rabbit hole for him to fall into, Nick finds himself slowly entangled in a mystery of which he never asked to be a part. But the resulting investigation, and its results, lead Reminiscence’s curious lead to unravel a plot that feels right at home with the classic pulp detective stories it seeks to scho. Danger threatens him and his partner, Watts (Thandiwe Newton), and in true noir fashion the closer Nicholas gets to the truth, the higher the stakes happen to be. And when it comes to the audience, those raising stakes couldn’t be more effective.
Reminiscence boasts Hugh Jackman as its lead, but the entire cast shines from start to finish.
Functionally, Hugh Jackman is Reminiscence’s lead, as Nicholas Bannister is the gateway to this expansive future that turns a blind eye towards its pervasive unfortunate circumstances. With the haves and the have nots more sharply defined, and the water level rising ever higher, Lisa Joy shows us a society that’s more of a logical extension of the one we currently live in rather than a far flung dystopia. Which makes the performances of Jackman and his castmates all the more significant.
Flanked by Rebecca Ferguson’s alluring mystery woman and Thandiwe Newton’s dependable lieutenant, Hugh Jackman’s investigation into Reminiscence’s central mystery holds the sway that any good tale should. This entire “case” is important to Nick, and the fact that he’s not even a detective makes it more exciting to follow. Watching him relive the romance of the past while struggling to maintain control in the present is the push and pull that makes for fantastic noir cinema. While he may be the centerpiece of the story, both Ferguson and Newton’s are equally essential to cementing the world of Reminiscence.
Fans of Lisa Joy’s seamless blend of sci-fi and noir sensibilities are going to love taking this particular ride.
If you’re a Westworld fan, then you should already buy yourself a ticket to Reminiscence. That’s not to say that Lisa Joy is merely recycling her tools and approach from the hit HBO series to simply cash in on a hot trend. Rather, the world of her feature directorial debut is severely adjacent to the world she’s helped craft on the small screen. But her previous world building has also helped shape Reminiscence into a mystery ride worth taking.
Lisa Joy’s fandom of this sort of storytelling is prominent in Reminiscence, as she’s crafted a neo-noir that takes the style of classics in that particular genre and upgrades them for an advanced future. What’s more, rather than embodying the pitch black bleakness these sorts of movies have been known for, Joy allows for hope to grow in this seemingly hopeless world. Never compromising the integrity of the story for the sake of brightening the story, Reminiscence allows happiness to take hold, but still firmly plants its feet in the world of genre where there will always be a price to pay for such pursuits.
A mysterious love story of the future, Reminiscence takes a past genre and turns it into a modern beauty.
Reminiscence is a mysterious love story of the future, which sees a man pursuing his romantic interests wherever they may take him. As Hugh Jackman winds through that web of mystery, the dynamics of that relationship only get more complicated, and the results will affect the world that he lives in – for better or worse. What may seem like a throwaway detail, or a moment of exposition that exists merely to give Reminiscence’s future Miami some color, could in fact be something that becomes much more important down the line.
That’s the true beauty of Lisa Joy’s film, as it’s in a world so meticulously crafted that the viewer is allowed to follow along with Nick’s own shocked revelations in what feels like real time. Everything has a purpose, and there’s no such thing as a coincidence in the narrative of Reminiscence. Investing valuable time and energy into both the visual and thematic thrills that await moviegoers, this is a movie that will live in the memories of viewers who give it the opportunity to do so. Action, romance, and corruption mix together in a blend that allows Reminiscence to wow as an original movie that indulges in the comforts of a very familiar sort of story. Though it may be debuting simultaneously on the big screen and streaming, it’s well worth taking the time to go to the movies and enjoy in the traditional theatrical setting.