BAXTER — Ah, ‘the good ol’ days’ … but were they really all that good?
“Reminiscence” toys with that alluring idea in a new release from Lisa Joy, the co-creator of HBO’s “Westworld,” in her feature film directorial debut.
Aussie Hugh Jackman trades in his metal claws he had as Wolverine in the “X-Men” movie franchise for a Humphrey Bogart-like hard-boiled veteran looking for a lost love who vanishes mysteriously in the sci-fi film noir co-starring Rebecca Ferguson and Thandiwe Newton.
Jackman is Nick Bannister, a futuristic hypnotist of sorts in a Miami flooded by climate change who takes on clients who want to retrieve memories to relive the past in the dystopian era.
“When the waters began to rise and war broke out, nostalgia became a way of life. There wasn’t a lot to look forward to, so people began looking back,” Bannister says in one of his many “Sunset Boulevard”-esque voiceovers. “Nothing is more addictive than the past.”
One day a beguiling waitress and singer named Mae played by Ferguson stops by out of the blue to see Bannister on the pretext of using his services — and that of his alcoholic business partner Emily "Watts" Sanders, played by Newton — to find her keys.
Bannister and Mae soon strike up a torrid love affair, but Mae suddenly and inexplicably disappears one day as quickly as she entered his life, leaving Bannister to obsess over his lost love and looking for clues in his own memories of their time together for a way to find her.
“How much did you really know her?” Watts asks Bannister.
Bannister and Watts also work freelance for the district attorney’s office interested in building a case against a drug dealer. The duo retrieves the memories of an underling of the drug kingpin when Bannister sees Mae as she was in the past before she entered his life.
Bannister asks in another voiceover, “Who was she? Who was she when not with me?”
He goes down the proverbial rabbit hole chasing Mae from one encounter to another, fighting his way through his pain and sadness to the truth of their relationship at every twist and turn.
“Nothing is more addictive than the past. Who wouldn't want to be reunited with a loved one? Or relive the most meaningful moments of their life? But memories, even good ones, have a voracious appetite. If you're not careful, they consume you.”
— Nick Bannister
“Nothing is more addictive than the past. Who wouldn't want to be reunited with a loved one? Or relive the most meaningful moments of their life? But memories — even good ones — have a voracious appetite,” Bannister tells the audience. “If you're not careful, they consume you.”
The plot of “Reminiscence” is at times “heady stuff” — pun intended — but Joy, who also wrote the screenplay in addition to directing the motion picture, appears up to the task given that she graduated from Stanford University before attending Harvard Law School.
Joy is also the sister-in-law of film auteur Christopher Nolan, who directed “The Dark Knight” trilogy. Jackman starred in “The Prestige,” which was directed by Nolan and co-written by his brother and Joy’s husband Jonathan Nolan.
Jackman and Ferguson have shared the big screen before in “The Greatest Showman,” a 2017 musical drama inspired by the story of P. T. Barnum, founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus.
“Reminiscence” is notable in that it features an international cast. Ferguson is a Swedish actress and Newton is an English actress. Chinese-American Daniel Wu and New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis also round out the ensemble in their respective but integral roles in the film.
“Reminiscence” is rated PG-13 and runs about two hours long. The feature film from Warner Bros. Pictures is now playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and the Sunset Cinema in Jenkins.