Movie Review: Reminiscence

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What if you could go back and relieve your fondest memories as if you’re experiencing them all over again?  

In the near dystopian future, Miami is perpetually flooded with rising tides and heat due to climate change.  Skyscrapers are partially submerged, roads are waterways, and boats and water taxis are common transportation.  The muggy heat also turns the city nocturnal, where a lot of daytime activities are done at nighttime.  

Border wars and wealth inequity have created a wider gap between the haves and the have-nots, where the wealthy wall off themselves with a dam; the land barons push out coastal waters and keep the dry lands to themselves, leaving the rest of of the residents in sinking grounds and dampness.  It’s an inventive setting that would have been interesting to delve into.  

The intriguing premise and setting are matched by the star powers of Hugh Jackman (“Wolverine” series, “X-Men” series), Rebecca Ferguson (“Mission Impossible” series) and Thandiwe Newton.  Jackman and Ferguson reunited from their last smash hit together, “The Greatest Showman.” 

reminiscence movie
Photo Credit: courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Jackman (Nick Bannister) and Newton (Emily “Watts” Sanders) plan war veterans-turned-business partners and friends.  Nick operates a business where he uses a machine called Reminiscence and he guides his clients to travel back to certain memories of their choosing and relieve those memories.  Watts is his assistant, helps operates the machine and records the memories into memory cards.  

A client would get into a water tank, wear a virtual reality headset, and have the chosen memories played over, projected into a hologram.  The machine could also be used for investigations and putting together clues to aid in solving crimes, wading the business into private eye territory.    

One day a closing time, Mae (Ferguson), a nightclub singer, walked into Nick’s office, wanting to find her missing keys.  Clad in an alluring air and a slinky red silk dress, Nick is instantly smitten from the moment he lays his eyes on her.  

Snippets of the love affair can be seen from the holograms, Nick’s memories of their time in the few months they are together before Mae vanishes from his life, leaving him heartbroken and obsessed in finding her.  For all Nick’s obsessions, the relationship is underdeveloped, as it speeds through montages.  

Not surprisingly, Mae is not the woman Nick thought she was.  The femme fatale’s shady past takes Nick on a train trip on a lone rail line above the water-logged landscape to New Orleans, encounters with a drug lord and gangster, crooked cop, and crime conspiracy of a land baron and his heir.  

Foreseeing the consequences, Watts begs Nick to not go down this road, but Nick is far down the rabbit hole to let this go.  There are multiple shootouts and drag-down fights, including one with a grand piano underwater.  

The story grows out of bounds and you may get lost at some point, but things that seem far-fetched end up interconnected in the larger picture.  From the protagonist’s perspective, the ending is bittersweet.  There’s a fragment of this that reminds me of “Inception.”  

Director Lisa Joy crafts an original, neo-noir story with a cool cinematography, weaving in elements of sci-fi, mystery, thriller, crime drama and romance.  While “Reminiscence” is far from a mind-blowing trip, the conceptcentral mystery and cinematography are still worth a trip. 

Copyright (c) 2021. Nathalia Aryani

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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