“Reminiscence” offers a somewhat strained science fiction story from a somber future. Hugh Jackman turns out to be a limited actor. The dystopian Miami alone seems successful.
Miami is up to its neck. Climate change has raised sea levels, permanently flooding the lower floors and turning the streets into canals. The rich have fled to the drier regions and barricaded themselves behind thick flood walls. Down below, people not only fight against the water masses every day, but also against crime and social impoverishment.
Lisa Joy locates her debut feature film “Reminiscence” in this dystopian setting. In Florida’s soaked capital, war veteran Nick (Hugh Jackman) runs a memory detective agency with his former comrade Watts (Thandie Newton). A water bath, a syringe in the neck and a helmet made of electrodes on the head and the journey into the past begins. Many come here to relive the beautiful moments of their lives in hopeless times. But the public prosecutor’s office also uses the screening of memories as an interrogation technique.
Then she stands there: the oh-so-mysterious Mae (Rebecca Furgerson) in a bright red dress that she soon drops to dive into the memory of – a femme fatale like from the manual. Of course, Nick falls for her on the spot, spends a short happy time with Mae before the dream woman disappears without a trace. He can’t believe that she should have left him and begins to investigate the flooded city and his own memories.
Director and screenwriter Lisa Joy is visibly inspired by the idea of kneading her dystopian setting with elements of classic film noir. But the genre batter just doesn’t want to rise here. Even if the visual stimuli of the artfully darkened Miami-Venice develop an initial power of fascination, the cliché-laden story never gets out of the harbor of predictability. And so the film noir hocus-pocus soon works very hard.
Ms. Ferguson may barely pass for Lauren Bacall’s revenant, but Mr. Jackman is certainly not a Humphrey Bogart. Even if the handsome man with his bare, spacious upper body climbs the memory bath over and over again, his acting deficits become clear again in the more emotional scenes. The platitudes about the deceptive, comforting nature of memory are similarly overridden, while the promising dystopian future design is reduced to a mere darkening effect.
Reminiscence, USA 2021 – Director: Lisa Joy, with Hugh Jackman, Thandie Newton, Rebecca Ferguson, 116 minutes