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Reminiscence Review

Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson from The Greatest Showman rejoin in Reminiscence, in a disappointingly familiar dynamic to what we’ve previously seen. In this film, Jackman plays Nick Bannister, a former soldier who now operates a company where people may pay to access their memories using a sensory deprivation tank, where they can submerge themselves in water and see their most cherished memories play out in front of them. And everything is fine until Ferguson’s Mae, a lovely cabaret singer, walks in.

Mae approaches Nick, claiming she’s misplaced her keys and needs access to the tank to retrieve them, which is a straightforward request. Despite knowing nothing about Mae, Nick appears to fall in love with her right away, and while their performances are as good as ever, it would have been more convincing if we’d seen their friendship deepen more. There isn’t much to suggest love here, except from occasional lusty gazes and intense scenes, especially because Nick’s character knows so little about her.

In fact, Mae’s mystery is central to the plot, and she quickly vanishes, leaving Nick surprised and perplexed because individuals “don’t just vanish.” Concerned that something has happened to her, he embarks on his own trip to find her in the hopes of a loving reunion. But he ends up traveling down a rabbit hole he didn’t intend to walk down, propelling the film into a sci-fi thriller with a number of twists and turns, which is where the real fun begins. As Nick learns more and more about the city that formed Mae, there are some well-choreographed battle sequences that expose this new metropolis for what it truly is: a violent and cruel place.

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Nick works alongside Emily “Watts” Sanders (Thandiwe Newton), a former soldier herself, who is much more wary and attempts to keep him from chasing Mae and putting himself in danger, but he’s having none of it. The connection between these two characters felt more believable than the romance that was intended to be the core of the picture, although this could be because the duo just had more screen time together. In any case, I’m unhappy we didn’t get to see a true romance grow before it all went downhill.

Stylistically, the film is incredibly stunning, taking place in a world where much of the city is flooded and you must go by boat to reach various locations. It has a Bioshock-like feel to it, with a bizarre new world that is almost frozen in time with water dominating your surrounds. Water is a major element in this film, from the streets of Miami to Nick’s own sensory deprivation tanks, providing a sense of regeneration throughout, despite the fact that most people are hesitant to accept these significant changes in their life. It does raise some intriguing concerns, a la Black Mirror and Inception, such as whether you would revisit your past if you could. Or would it just make you insane?

The score for Reminiscence should also be complimented, illustrating once again that Ramin Djawadi doesn’t miss. Best recognized for his work on Game of Thrones and Westworld, where he also collaborated with the film’s writer-director Lisa Joy, the score adds drama and atmosphere to the film and elevates it in its most emotional moments, particularly in the later sequences. It’s just a shame that the score and cinematography outperformed the plot on this occasion. By the time you figure out what’s going on, the plot feels disjointed, and several sequences seem a little far-fetched even for a sci-fi film.

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There are several poignant moments in the film, even when it comes to other persons Nick meets on his quest to discover the truth about Mae. As it occurs, she’s become embroiled in a hazardous world, uncovering more dark facts and hidden secrets from the residents of this new Miami. It’s a frightening and merciless environment, and you can understand Nick’s desire to escape into his love/lust for Mae.

Unfortunately, Reminiscence gets overly complicated, raising the question of why Nick is still persisting despite the clear risk and the multiple unscrupulous persons he must face in order to accomplish his aim. Following a great opening, the film fades off, eventually giving us a bittersweet finish that didn’t make me feel anything, which felt like a crushing disappointment given how it opened and hinted there’d be an emotional tug throughout. It’s visually appealing, and the performances are good, but it lacks the substance I expected based on the idea.

Reminiscence Review
Reminiscence Review
Reminiscence Review
Reminiscence Review
Reminiscence Review
Reminiscence Review

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