Written by: Lisa Joy
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Marina de Tavira
When the present and future do not hold much promise, it becomes quite easy to dwell in the past for a time when things were either simpler or easier. This gets displayed all the time now with a wave of nostalgia dominating the entertainment space and it becomes the only respite in the world established in Reminiscence. An entertaining noir diving deep into a future more aligned with reality than we would like to believe.
With waters rising leaving parts of Miami underwater, Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) owns a business where customers can pay to relive memories. This can be used for pleasure, to reminisce, or to try and find something lost in the past. When he takes an appointment for a mysteriously alluring woman, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson), he gets himself in a larger situation than he asked for.
A science-fiction noir with Rebecca Ferguson portraying a femme fatale? Please, just take my money. Pretty much every element of a film that would get my attention and landing with little fanfare, the ideas Reminiscence offers allows for plenty of pondering with its most fascinating aspect of having it take place in the not too distant future. With the impact of climate change, part of what has been warned with the polar ice caps melting is the impact on coastal cities where they could literally be submerged in water if massive change does not occur. This horrible and almost unimaginable circumstance becomes the reality of this movie as we see certain parts of the city completely underwater and the looming threat of it continually getting worse on the horizon. Having this grim reality as the setting sets such a dour mood but allows for the windy and destructive romance in the middle of it to have that much more resonance.
From her very introduction, you just knew Mae would become a femme fatale for the ages as Ferguson just has the look. Almost indescribable in a sense, but she has every attribute necessary to drive a man down dangerous paths to maintain her affection. Having her at the center of it all made it evident why Nick would continue down this dangerous road. The scenes the two characters have together carry such an electric and striking energy to it that it holds everything else together very well.
Just as with every film in the noir genre, it all comes down to the central mystery and discovering a truth that perhaps may be difficult to fully accept. This windy road Nick finds himself in comes with many twists and turns that not only introduce the audience to a whole host of characters but also allow for further exploration of this version of Miami these characters inhabit. This level of world-building comes as no surprise from the mind of Lisa Joy, who has proven herself before in the television world and made quite the impressive debut here in feature film. It’s almost impressive Warner Bros allowed for this much investment into this film as it has the production value of something epic and Joy certainly does not squander it with a limp story.
The performances working in this feature do well to sell everything happening in the story, namely the work done by Hugh Jackman. Needing to carry the emotional weight of Banister’s journey and selling the near-obsession he has with Mae becomes integral and he does so well. It shows, once again, that when given the right material this man can deliver stellar work. While this does not reach the peak of his abilities as seen in other films, it demonstrates this man can do so well with characters that can be unlikeable at times, but always remain understandable. It very much explains plenty about what it means to watch this film. Stunned at his decision-making but understanding because the man is definitely in love beyond words.
Memories get utilized in such an intelligent manner in this feature, specifically in the way they can have such an impact on how we see the world and what gets cherished. It can manipulate and make us perceive reality in a way that does now allow us to move forward. Reminiscence takes ideas such as this while infusing them with a noir tale all infused for something that feels wholly unique and unfortunately went underappreciated. These are the feature films that need support, as it raises the entertainment factor while also providing something utterly thought-provoking and with much more discussion.