- Hamish Hart
Reminiscence (2021) Review
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
HISTORY will remember Reminiscence as a box-office bomb, but this mind-bending crime drama was definitely worth the watch, answering majority of its bold questions and theories by the time curtain call came.
Private investigator Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) aids those seeking truth through a futuristic device which allows him to view people's memories in the third-person, allowing for unique perspectives on otherwise one-note situations. Bannister is approached by the alluring Mae (Rebecca Ferguson), a client who has simply misplaced her keys, but the further he goes into her memories, Bannister realises there is more to Mae's past then even she knows, untangling a chain of events which result in dire consequences for not just Bannister, but the city of New Orleans.
If this premise is giving you Westworld vibes, then good. Director and writer Lisa Joy was head producer behind the critically-acclaimed show, and while Reminiscence doesn't quite reach the same calibre of excellence, its ambitious premise is something to admire all on its own.
Hugh Jackman stars as the suave Nick Bannister in a role which he takes complete control of. His performance flies under the radar due to the sheer amount of concentration needed to comprehend the plot, but Jackman's underrated performance lends itself to more subtle character development and interactions; most notably with his love interest Mae. While Jackman's performance is superb, his character is let down by relentless exposition as Bannister continually explains to the audience who or what something is, and while this isn't a bad form of storytelling, Jackman speaks every 10 minutes, repeating characters and events we already know plenty about, resulting in a disconnected and boring experience during an otherwise beautifully-sculptured dystopian world.
Ferguson also does a fantastic job at playing the mysterious Mae, giving Jackman a run for his money in most scenes they share together. She is introduced in a manner which lets audiences know she is a major player in Reminiscence, with Bannister staring at Mae in utter allurement; almost as if he's seen this unknown wanderer in another lifetime.
One of the biggest criticisms of Reminiscence is its pacing which can be summed up in one word: boring; scenes of Bannister explaining the deeper philosophy behind time gone by, focusing on minor scenes and characters, and meaningless interactions that don't contribute to the over-arching plot resulted in a major disconnect from the entire film that couldn't have been rectified with enchanting visuals and world building.
Reminiscence managed to be a competent mystery throughout which took a number of turns I never expected. Jackman and Ferguson carry the film thanks to their electric chemistry, allowing the movie take a sentimental breath in amongst its confounding premise. The world of Lisa Joy's sci-fi drama was also explored in a meaningful way and never felt wasted, but for a film revolving around the past, Reminiscence, ironically and sadly, won't remembered in the next few years despite being a solid film.