Combining sci-fi, action and romance while taking a dive into the human psyche, Reminiscence aims to intrigue and to dazzle. The film is written, directed and co-produced by Lisa Joy. The team of creators also includes Jonathan Nolan, brother and co-writing partner of famed director Christopher, whose mind-bending films inevitably come to mind when watching Joy’s feature.
The action takes place in the near future in a dystopian Miami. A war has recently ended, the city is partially flooded due to the consequences of the climate crisis, and the weather is so hot that citizens sleep during the day and work at night. In this grim scenario, Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) invents a machine that allows people to recapture the past by visiting their memories in vivid detail in order to feel as if they actually live in that moment again.
After initially using the reminiscence machine for war-related investigations, Nick turns his work into a business and welcomes the general public into his lab to help them escape the present. Just as he and his assistant Emily “Watts” Sanders (Thandie Newton) have wrapped up for the day, the mysterious Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) walks in and asks to use the machine. Nick is mesmerised by her, and his interest soon turns obsessive, leading him down a rabbit hole of illusions, addictions, conspiracies and violence.
Although very ambitious in its scope, Reminiscence lacks a stamp of uniqueness and rather feels like a collage of recognisable elements and styles. Above all, it echoes Nolan’s Inception, and there are moments that seem to belong to the James Bond franchise. The film uses many of the noir detective archetypes, from the femme fatale and the troubled hero with a knack for investigative work to the seedy bars and the sleepless city. Just like the reminiscence machine, the production itself seems to take the audience back to familiar territory and images already seen.
The post-apocalyptic setting is visually impressive and very effective in imparting the feeling of doom that hangs in the air. The main characters’ inner struggles can be felt, but events escalate too precipitately and there’s little chemistry between the leading duo. The premise requires a suspension of disbelief, but even then, there are coincidences, contradictions and plot holes that break the flow and make it difficult to be invested in the characters’ journeys.
Reminiscence is tremendously sleek and boasts an excellent cast, but it falls short of making a strong and lasting impression.
Reminiscence is released nationwide on 20th August 2021.
Watch the trailer for Reminiscence here: