Reminiscence is a futuristic noir set in a flooded Miami years down the road so let the fact alone serve as a warning because Miami.
There may not be any cocaine cowboys in this film but Miami is starting to get the brunt of the damage on screen. Miami’s future is bleak whether it’s an alien attack or a vanishing coastline. It’s a nice break for the likes of Chicago and San Francisco after suffering damages in Transformers, Rampage, Pacific Rim, and Godzilla. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this film serves as a warning for what happens if we ignore the signs. Lisa Joy’s screenplay depicts a really bleak future–one that sees a war breakout and Americans getting placed in internment camps. This isn’t the America I know. Of course, the poor get poorer while the rich get increasingly richer.
War veteran Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) is a private investigator but he investigates the mind. Miami’s not a fun city to live in during this future where so many people get high on nostalgia. If you don’t like the present, why not seek to remember the good times as if you are there, right? Bannister works with Emily “Watts” Sanders (Thandiwe Newton) and they have their regulars but one day, the mysterious Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) walks in. She seeks Nick’s assistance in looking for her lost keys. Nick develops an interest in her and it becomes something more after she leaves her earrings behind. When Mae disappears, Nick tries to find her. One thing leads to another but you never know when you’re in the present or living in a memory.
The film isn’t without drug dealers like Saint Joe (Daniel Wu) and dirty cops like Cyrus Boothe (Cliff Curtis). This also speaks to how things don’t change in the future. I hesitate to use dystopian here. There will always be those people working to take advantage of others. Or they’re lurking behind in the shadows and doing someone else’s business. In this case, however, baca is the drug of choice for the day. And then you have the Sylvan baron dynasty. They are the ones that are taking advantage of the current state of Miami…Because Miami.
Noir is one of the classic cinematic genres. What Lisa Joy does is take a fresh approach in delivering a futuristic noir. In a way, it’s also a genre-bender with romance, action, thriller, and of course, mystery. Nick Bannister is not the traditional private investigator. When people seek a PI in traditional circumstances, it’s to find a missing person or confirm that your spouse is having an affair. This is not the case here. No, people want to seek out their favorite memories and hold onto them for another moment. It’s been just over 20 years since my grandmother died–what I wouldn’t do to go back in time and revisit one of the holiday gatherings with family.
But because it’s a noir, they give it a darker tone. Funny enough, the weather is so hot in Miami that the residents have become nocturnal. People wake up just before the sunset and so much of the activity here takes place at night when it’s cooler outside. The other thing here is that Lisa Joy opts for as much practicality as possible. What this means is that she uses as much real water when possible rather than CGI the water into the film. If you’re trying to spot Miami locales, the film was shot in and around the New Orleans area.
The film reunites both Jackman and Ferguson. We’ve seen their on-screen chemistry in The Greatest Showman. However, this film takes their chemistry to a completely different level. Because the film is so original, things zig where they might zag. Of course, there’s a lot of mystery surrounding Mae’s character and yet we’re so invested in her the moment she walks into Bannister & Associates.
Warner Bros. is releasing the film in theaters and on HBO Max. While I saw the film in a press-only environment, you must make the right decision for yourself. While I prefer the theatrical experience, it’s not something I can really recommend during a pandemic. Covid cases are rising so you have to trust your gut. This is the type of film that commands your attention from start to finish. But of course, you should watch in whichever environment makes you comfortable. Whether it’s in theaters or at home, that’s up to you.
Reminiscence immerses us quickly by offering something fresh and original in a world full of remakes and reboots.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Lisa Joy
CAST: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Marina de Tavira, Daniel Wu, Mojean Aria, Brett Cullen, Natalie Martinez, and Angela Sarafyan