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Reminiscence (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)



Starring Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Marina de Tavira, Daniel Wu, Mojean Aria, Brett Cullen, Natalie Martinez, Angela Sarafyan, Nico Parker, Giovannie Cruz, Teri Wyble, Rey Hernandez, Sam Medina, Han Soto, Javier Molina, Norio Nishimura, Roxton Garcia, Woon Young Park and Gabrielle Echols.

Screenplay by Lisa Joy.

Directed by Lisa Joy.

Distributed by Warner Bros. 116 minutes. Rated PG-13.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu – ancient Chinese philosopher.

The futuristic film noir Reminiscence is almost entirely about living in the past – how it can become a drug and an obsession.

Reminiscence takes place in the near future, at a time in which climate change has turned Miami into a floating city much like Venice. It focuses on Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a man who runs a service in which people can literally immerse themselves in their favorite memories – a virtual reality rerun of their own lives. The process can be used to relive important milestones, or even for something as trivial as finding lost keys.

Nick has many problems in his life, but he has always sworn off on using his own devices, knowing that memory can be a trap, a rabbit hole that can become addictive.

That is until he meets Mae (Rebecca Ferguson), a gorgeous femme fatale cabaret singer who came for an appointment to find the aforementioned keys. Nick is intrigued by the beautiful confident chanteuse, goes to see her in her club. Soon they are dating, and Nick is in love.

However, it turns out that Mae has a darker past and more shadowy motivations than he realized. When she suddenly and completely disappears, Nick becomes fixated on finding out why she left him.

He becomes his own best customer, spending hours and days in his machines – machines he’d always avoided previously – scouring through his memories, trying to find clues about why and where she has gone. It turns out to be a much more sordid tale than he first thought, dealing with gangsters and a recently deceased real estate baron and a missing boy.

Did Mae ever really love him, or was he targeted for some reason? And if so, why?

It’s a fascinating story idea. Reminiscence is the writing and directing debut of Lisa Joy, who is the showrunner of HBO’s popular reboot series of Westworld, which is also about disappearing into an idealized and seductive fake world rather than dealing with the realities of your present life.

Honestly, as the film goes on, the coincidences and improbabilities start to pile up, to the point they are a bit distracting. Still, in this kind of futuristic fantasy, the crowd has to decide if they are willing to just give in and go along for the ride – even if it doesn’t always make sense.

I decided to just go with it.

The vision of the film was intriguing enough to pull me through – a flooded over Miami is a well realized, arresting set. The acting was smart, and the ideas were imaginative, even when they didn’t always quite make sense. The old-time noir feel, the snappy action pace and the imaginative set pieces all walked the tightrope – threatening to fall more than once – but in my eye it was a mostly successful crossing.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2021 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 20, 2021.

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