Friday, August 20, 2021

Reminiscence

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

In post-war Miami, dams are now a thing due to rising sea levels putting large areas under water. Even then, life goes on for its residents despite struggling with the aftermath of an oft-mentioned border war. Private investigator Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) and his assistant friend Emily Sanders (Thandiwe Newton) make a living through their Reminiscence technology, a high-tech simulation that allows clients to bask in nostalgia. His life takes a detour when mysterious singer Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) walks in and pays to retrieve her memories so she can find her lost keys. A whirlwind romance follows but is cut short by her sudden disappearance, prompting him to get addicted to the very same tech he is making money out of, in a desperate attempt to scour his thoughts for clues as to where she might be. Question is, will he like the answers once they start pouring in?

You know the formula. Pretty woman enters the picture and turns guy’s world upside down, then leaves him that way. In a sense, it reminds you a bit of Gone Girl, except that this film does not come close to the thrilling storytelling that movie managed to achieve. Is Ferguson’s Mae a bad chick? Is she playing Jackman’s Nick? Is this a double or triple cross story? Those are some of the questions you end up asking as you watch the storyline drag along for almost two hours, until everything segues to near soap opera territory.

Reminiscence is promising but squanders its potential by aspiring to be a contrived and corny love story. We get it, Jackman and Ferguson have chemistry. In comparison with their unforgettable performance in The Greatest Showman, though, their turn in Reminiscence leaves a lot to be desired. It does not help that their uninteresting love affair is eclipsed by the more intriguing subplots such as this post-war water world we are given as well as the very premise of the storyline, which is the literal commercialization of nostalgia. Instead of exploring those, the plot is stubborn in focusing on the romance angle, which is just not that convincing.

Despite its shortcomings in the storytelling department, Reminiscence has a lot going on for it in terms of other aspects. Acting is fine but is somehow dragged down by an inexplicable air of boredom that shrouds the film’s two-hour runtime. Visuals are appealing, specifically the half-submerged Southern Florida cityscape and that one fight scene that ends up with two characters stuck on a piano descending through an underwater theater that gives you Guillermo del Toro/The Shape of Water vibes.

And that’s about it. The storyline spends too much time trying to discover who Mae really is and promising us that such exploration will be worth it, except that you end up feeling shortchanged because there really is nothing special about her flawed character. Nick in his endless pursuit is at least understandable because he is in wuv, and the story is anchored on him anyway. Newton’s “Watts” is also an interesting character, perhaps even more so than the two lovebirds, but is delegated to a supporting role.

Should you go to a cinema to watch it? Nah, I’d say just pay the $14.99 HBO MAX monthly subscription and just stream it there at the comfort of your own sofa. This film is promising but fails to deliver, and there are perhaps half-a-dozen movies which also tackle memories as their main premise and actually give you a good dose of mindfuck. Unfortunately, Reminiscence is not one of them. Watching me struggle to get this repetitive review over with is already a clear indication of that. We still love you, Wolverine, but it's a No for us.

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