Review: ‘Reminiscence’ Is A Story Of Love And Nostalgia

Lisa Joy

Lisa Joy

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton

Imagine if someone gave you the opportunity to transport you to any time and any place in your memories, would you use it to visit your fondest memories and potentially get lost in them forever? Lisa Joy’s cinematic debut ‘Reminiscence’ is a film about just that, delving into the past, and how memories of one’s past plays a part in the present. The talented writer-director is the prime creative force behind HBO’s “Westworld”, and clearly knows this territory, showcasing moments of breathtaking beauty and fascinating weirdness.

Nick Bannister (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 (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?

From here on out, Nick becomes a lost soul, wandering the plains of his own mind, involving himself within the confines of his own life. He’s given up hope of his love returning to him. However, when he finally gets a whiff of Mae’s whereabouts during a police investigation, the quest to solve this longstanding mystery commences. At times the plot can be convoluted, but the action sequences are enough to keep you gripping to the story. Hugh Jackman as you would expect is engaging as the grisly boggart-infused Nick Bannister, but I felt as though Thandiwe Newton was probably lost during all the subplots and her talents could have been utilized a lot more. Ferguson was quite captivating as Mae, bringing us Kim Basinger vibes from the hit film LA Confidential. Ferguson is especially commanding in her scenes. The enigma of Mae is her strength and there is no denying that Ferguson delivers when needed.

While viewers can appreciate the stylistic noir and commanding presences of it’s actors, much of the film itself feels like an unpolished story. I felt we were immersed in the opening story sequences at the beginning of a video game. There is a lack of desire in getting viewers to understand the foundations on which this world is built upon, and really letting us understand what this world is all about. Maybe all the opportunities to truly get the audience to take in the plot are sometimes over shadowed by all of the beauty of the landscapes. Which is a shame as the premise itself is quite intriguing. The special effects in “Reminiscence” are pretty spectacular though, whether we’re leering over the view of a waterlogged city or watching Nick’s clients enter their memories via his device. There’s a bit of elegancy throughout the film also via the cinematography, heightened by the subtle narration by Jackman, alluding to time and the past.

Ultimately, “Reminiscence” is a feature that contains a vision but ultimately doesn’t have the direction it needs to be a huge blockbuster. With some fine tuning and polishing though, this could be an unusual gem. Not all is lost though, “Reminiscence” is fortunate enough to be carried by the strong talent and engaging performances established by it’s cast. It embodies an important message throughout the duration, “there is nothing more addictive than the past”. It is a cautionary tale that urges us to live in the present and in the moment.

Written By: Neill Frazer

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