The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent, Tony Farinella.
“Reminiscence” is one of the most underrated and overlooked films of 2021. From start to finish, I was riveted by the acting, the action, and the many twists and turns throughout. It is a film which keeps its audience on its toes and keeps them guessing. There is a lot to like here. It’s a bit baffling to me to read how the film did poorly at the box office and with critics. I do have a strong feeling this is the type of film which is going to gain a cult audience with time and now that it’s out on Blu-Ray. I really think people underestimated it. That is the beauty of home video: A film can live on and grow with time.
Hugh Jackman stars as Nick Bannister, a lonely and troubled man after the war. He runs a business which allows people to relive some of their favorite memories and moments from their lives. If they were happier in the past, they can go in this water tank and relive that memory. It is very comforting for a lot of people, especially if they have lost someone close to them. His partner in business is named Watts, and she’s played by the talented actress Thandiwe Newton. She was with Nick in the war, and they have remained close friends. She has a drinking problem that has ruined her relationship with her daughter and her ex-husband. She is still very loyal to Nick and credits him with giving her a purpose.
One day, a young woman by the name of Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) comes to relive a memory of how she lost her keys. Watts thinks something is fishy about this, but Nick is quite taken with her. As a matter of fact, they strike up a relationship which turns out to be quite passionate. It makes it that much harder for Nick when she disappears out of his life for seemingly no rhyme or reason. He really thought she was the one, and he had strong feelings for her. With his memory tank and resources, he goes on a mission to find out what happened to Mae and where she might be in an attempt to save her.
“Reminiscence” has been described as part science fiction and part film noir. Film noir has always been one of my favorite genres in Hollywood. It’s not used as often these days, but it was quite popular back in the golden days of Hollywood with actors such as Humphrey Bogart, Orson Welles and Burt Lancaster. The fact writer and director Lisa Joy blended this genre with science fiction is a really bold move. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember too many times this has been done recently in Hollywood. It works perfectly here, especially with Jackman’s narration. It really adds to the film’s mysterious underbelly. As far as the science fiction, they did it just enough to make it believable without going too over-the-top with the concept.
To quote the legendary wrestler Roddy Piper, “Just when you think you know the answers, I change the questions.” That is exactly what is happening with “Reminiscence.” I thought I had this film figured out two or three times, and the filmmakers kept surprising me with where they went with the story. Jackman is great in everything he does, but his friendship in the film with Newton is what really gives the film its heart and soul. Ferguson is also pitch-perfect as the femme fatale, as you really don’t know what’s going on with her and if you should trust her. Is she the woman she claims to be? Is she a seedy film noir character with bad intentions? I thought the casting in this film was spot-on in all avenues.
I really loved “Reminiscence.” It’s creative, fun, heartfelt, surprising, and different. Hollywood is known for doing a lot of the same movies over and over again. I haven’t seen a film even close to this one in quite some time. It really captivated me, and most of all, I cared about the characters and their individual fates. This is a film I’m proud to champion and encourage people to see now that it’s out on Blu-Ray and DVD. I have a strong feeling you will be surprised by it. I know I was, and I’m a tough critic because I see so many movies. This is a special film. I also really enjoyed the atmospheric world created by the director as well. All of the pieces were lining up with this flick.
* * * ½ out of * * * *
Blu-Ray Info: “Reminiscence” is rated PG-13 for strong violence, drug material throughout, sexual content and some strong language. It comes on a single-disc Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. It also has a digital copy of the film as well.
Video/Audio Info: The film is released on 1080p high definition with audio in Dolby Atmos-True HD: English, Dolby Digital: English Descriptive Audio, and English, Spanish and French. Subtitles are included in English, French and Spanish as well.
You’re Going on a Journey
The Sunken Coast
Crafting a Memory
Reminiscence: A Family Reunion
“Save My Love” Music Video
Should You Buy It?
One of my favorite filmmakers is Richard Linklater, and while I’m not comparing Lisa Joy to him, I did enjoy the way she used time and memory as such a pivotal part of the story. Much like in Linklater’s films, time and memory plays such a big part in what is happening here. It’s a character in the film. As someone who often thinks about the past and is big on nostalgia, this film really struck a chord with me. How much is thinking about the past a good thing? When does it become a bad thing? Are we stuck in the past? Did we learn from the past? There is a lot to chew on with this film. The performances are committed and powerful, especially Jackman’s. He always brings such an intensity to all of his roles. If you are still a hardcore physical media collector like myself, you will be very pleased to add “Reminiscence” to your collection. As I mentioned earlier, it’s one of the great surprises of 2021.
**Disclaimer** I received a Blu-ray copy of this film from Warner Brothers to review for free. The opinions and statements in the review are mine and mine alone.