What did you think when you saw the trailer for Reminiscence for the first time? I was…underwhelmed. Of course, you have Hugh Jackman which is a huge plus. Jackman is now spreading his talents in work outside of playing everyone’s favorite anti-hero, Wolverine. The trailer tells us it is from one of the creators of Westworld (Lisa Joy). I have always believed Westworld was more style, ideas, and potential than actual execution. This trailer for Reminiscence certainly spouted plenty of ideas and potential. But does the film pay off?
After viewing the film, did it defy my low expectations and excitement? Not really. It really came in right where I expected it to be. There is no denying that Jackman is a talented performer and commanding lead. He rocks this noir role well including providing quality voice-over (even if there is WAY too much of it). This film turns out to be a mix of plenty of genres including film noir, science fiction, and thriller. Joy is trying to balance so many approaches and ideas that they can never hits all at once. This noir base does lead to some mystery but unfortunately the direction is lacking in life. Joy nails things on a technical level but lacks human connection or emotion (similar complaints to much of Christopher Nolan’s work who just so happens to be Joy’s brother in-law). There were stretches of the film that felt…boring (which is incredibly sad to say).
Even with a distinct lack of energy and life, does the audience at least get a strong connection to the story and characters? Jackman’s performance is the anchor that goes a long way in making us care about this story even just a little bit. The film tries to set up this lost love story as the central driving force but there is just not enough there to fully keep the film afloat. Rebecca Ferguson brings a mystery and magnetism to her performance even if there is not a lot to connect with there. Jackman and Ferguson have natural chemistry which helps in the scenes they share at least. Thandiwe Newton is a standout as Jackman’s partner, and she brings energy to each scene she appears in. The story itself is convoluted and features too many moving parts which gets in the way of building a connection to the proceedings.
But how does this film not hit it out of the park with such a creative concept? The world building is quite interesting with the flooding and heat, but they never feel like there are maximized in the narrative of the film. They feel more like cool things in the background which never quite make a big enough impact. The idea of traveling into memories is a cool idea and Joy can find multiple different ways it can fit into the greater world of our story
Does Joy’s film offer enough to make it a film worth checking out? If you are a genre fan, then there are plenty of frills to go around in this one (even if they are never fully realized). Reminiscence will go down as a film that does so many different things…just good enough to be watchable. Despite a distinct lack of energy, this is still an easy watch that is jam packed with so many genre tropes to digest. There are plenty of better genre mash-ups out there but this is worth a watch all the same.