In Theatres: 
Aug 20, 2021
Running Time: 
116 minutes

The premise behind Reminiscence is an interesting one. Having the technology to look into and explore people’s memories opens the world up to some interesting possibilities. The world that Lisa Joy creates is fantastic and brimming with potential. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t know what to do with said potential, wasting it on a lackluster story that struggles to keep your interest. Reminiscence is a memory that is quickly forgotten, and one that should remain buried in the past.


Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) works his own business where he explores people’s memories, allowing them to relive their best moments over and over again. He is also occasionally called in to help law enforcement, guiding police through a suspect’s memories to gather evidence and learn about past events and people. He’s never been one to hold onto his own memories, though. That is until the new client turned lover Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) enters his life. But after a brief and passionate romance, Mae quickly disappears one day, leaving Nick nothing but her memory to follow. Fortunately for him that’s what he’s best at, but as he digs deeper into his and other people’s memories of her, he discovers that she might not be the same person he thought he knew.


The best thing about Reminiscence is the world that writer and director Lisa Joy establishes. It’s the future and climate change has caused the sea levels to drastically rise, forcing society to live a nearly coastal lifestyle where the majority of buildings open directly against the water and boats are the primary method of transportation. The wealthy live more centrally, surrounded by mechanisms that divert any water around them so they have a completely dry oasis. Due to the increase in temperature, the whole day/night cycle has reversed as well; people now sleep during the heat of the day and wake up for work when the sun begins to set. It’s an interesting concept that Joy does a fantastic job at fleshing out. The ability to see and explore people’s memories is perhaps one of the least captivating things about the film.


Nick’s persistent pursuit for the truth surrounding Mae’s disappearance is very touch and go. The whole thing starts off on unstable ground because we barely get to know her and their relationship before she is gone, making us question why he cares so deeply for her in particular. To their credit, both Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson deliver convincing enough performances to keep the film moving, but so much of the story feels like a rollercoaster without any hills, valleys, or loops. The plot just moves from one moment to the next in a straightforward fashion. Reminiscence fails at giving you any reason to care about either Nick or Mae and their relationship. They’re just two people in a much bigger and more interesting world.


Reminiscence has a destination in mind, but the journey to get there is full of missteps and missed opportunities. There are a few moments where the film takes advantage of its science fiction genre and does some cool things like making you question whether something is a dream or reality, but frankly it only scratches the surface rather than explore those possibilities. The lackluster story just isn’t enough to make up for the gorgeous worldbuilding, resulting in a disappointing film not worth remembering.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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