Life is not always the easiest, but the way we live it makes it seem like it is. Often, we can feel like we are carrying around a bag full of bricks, but whenever we think about our history, we often feel like we are carrying around a bag full of diamonds.
When your favourite singer or band releases a new album you want to know everything about it. How they came up with the song titles, how they recorded it, what the message of the album is, and if the album cover art is any good. The problem with this is, you don’t know how it all came about, and what the purpose of the album is. ‘Reminiscence’ is a concept album that tries to explain how one song has been written from the past, with the album having a theme that is carried through the whole record.
Reminiscence begins in a half-swamped Miami, where the streets have been flooded by increasing sea levels. However, the picture switches halfway through to a similarly flooded New Orleans, where a Chinese American criminal called Saint Joe resides. In the near future, Baca is the drug of choice, and Joe, portrayed by Daniel Wu, has built a mini-empire out of the pills and a few shady policemen along the way. He’s only a sidekick in Reminiscence, another stumbling barrier for Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) in his mission to figure out what happened to his missing girlfriend, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson). Joe, on the other hand, makes a far more vivid impression in his short presence. Joe is a much more colorful character in his short presence than Nick, who is a noir hero recreated for a sci-fi setting, a sad-eyed veteran of a recent battle whose specifics are kept unclear.
Joe speaks in Mandarin, referring to his opponents as pengyou and uttering things like “the joy shi wo de.” Outsiders are challenged to keep up in a clearly manufactured way that progresses from entertaining to reading as a job. He was not called to service since he was gathered up as part of a larger group. He wasn’t able to give because he was apprehended as part of a similarly mysterious but familiar-sounding imprisonment, made all the more horrific by the levee breaches. These fascinating subtleties are carelessly acknowledged, as though the repetitive shooting that follows is more interesting. The most terrible thing about Reminiscence is that it’s a film full of intriguing concepts that it never gets around to exploring because it’s focused on a love mystery that’s never that compelling.
Some of these concepts are well-known. Reminiscence, the directorial debut of Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy, is reminiscent of many prior works. Nick’s innovation is comparable to Strange Days or The Final Cut in that it enables a patient to experience projected memories on a screen or hologram strands at the same time. The sci-fi noir stylings, on the other hand, are evocative of Dark City. The way the wealthy live in their own gated enclave, on dry ground maintained by pumping water out into the poorer regions, is unlike anything else in dystopian fiction — a degree of familiarity is inevitable (as well as our real life).
While the idea of coastal towns being transformed into chaotic versions of Venice as a result of climate change isn’t new, Joy’s depiction onscreen is so vivid that it seems like a waste when the film doesn’t focus on it more as a lived-in experience. Residents gliding over what used to be South Beach in wooden boats and going nocturnal to escape the day heat keep her Miami neon-lit in the face of the floods, buildings submerged but occupied where they may be.
Nick’s army buddy turned colleague, Watts (Thandiwe Newton), works out of a gloomy old bank building in a flooded but still habitable neighborhood. During the war, Nick served as an interrogator, and the two now collaborate with the DA to gather information from suspects and witnesses. The bulk of their customers, on the other hand, are regular people seeking to relive better times.
When Mae makes a stunning appearance at closing time, she says she only needs help locating her keys, but Nick is immediately captivated. He learns she’s a nightclub performer and looks her up at work, eventually falling in love with her — but then he pulls the rug out from under her in a repeated carpet pull. Mae cleaned up her apartment and vanished without a trace after just a few months together, leading Nick to utilize his expertise to find out how the relationship ended.
Reminiscence fails to explain Mae’s obsession with Nick or Nick as a protagonist. Ferguson has a compelling charisma that is yet underused in certain ways. This film, on the other hand, has the advantage of presenting Mae via the hazy glass of Nick’s flawed, romanticized recollection. On the other hand, Nick, who is meant to be tormented and obsessed while still being undeniably wonderful, has stumped Jackman.
When it comes to non-sci-fi topics, Reminiscence attempts to evoke classics like Laura and Vertigo, but Nick isn’t gloomy, and his obsession isn’t frightening. He cites the story of Orpheus and Eurydice as an example, but instead of being grandly tragic, the trajectory of their love is simply predictable.
Despite all of the enjoyable elements that pass by on the periphery — such as the specifics of day-to-day life in a semi-submerged city, the people imprisoned, or the implications of the ramifications of memory devices, which we see being used as a sort of senior clubhouse at the end — the film feels trapped by its own influences, by its dogged commitment to its overdetermined genre mash-up o Because of its wasted promise and the way it relegates all of its finest things to the periphery as if that’s the only way to include it, reminiscence is all the more irritating. Why bother with your primary characters when they’re so dead and flat, particularly when they’re so boring?