A cool blend of contemporary & retro culture

Hugh Jackman’s new movie ‘Reminiscence’ is equal parts romance, sci-fi, mafia film and noir

Hugh Jackman has good recall. I once interviewed him on the red carpet at a film premier in Sydney where I reminded him of when he used to wait at Perth café, Valentino’s (now Midori Bar in Northbridge). Hugh asked how in the heck I knew, and I told him my sister was his boss at the time. Being the charmer that he is, the star replied, “Of course! You have the same eyes as Lorena.” Now that’s impressive recall – especially coming from a busy Hollywood star who’s likely seen it all.

But I digress. Kind of.

While on the subject of recall, Reminiscence is a new film starring Jackman as future scientist, Nick Bannister, an obsessive/obsessed dude who helps people relive their pasts in the pursuit of joy, closure, or simply to find their lost keys. They’ve just gotta get into a tub full of water, lay back, and subsume to the microchip. And who wouldn’t go to the trouble when you have Hugh guiding you?

The backdrop to this handsome, although rather odd, retro-therapy is a dystopian Miami, half-sunken into the sea with citizens that do business by night so as to avoid the intense heat of the day (no thanks to climate change).

While it has themes of memory and mind invasion similar to a slew of sci-fi films that have come before it – from Bladerunner to Memento, Inception to Total RecallReminiscence is in a league of its own because the romantic aspects are as heavily focused on as the sci-fi ones. And, of course, because it stars Hugh.

Nick Bannister (Jackman’s scientist) keeps busy bringing people into their past with the use of whiz-bang machinery and software, but he also likes to use these means to reminisce his meeting with a stranger named Mae (Rebecca Ferguson (Doctor Sleep; Dune). You see, Mae has left a major mark on Nick and she disappears from his life as quickly as she entered it, leaving the scientist on a mission to track her down within his own-made hologramic realm, mainly to satisfy his romantic cravings.

The holograms in ‘Reminiscence’ are what make the movie, similar to those we’ve seen in films like ‘Superman Returns’ and latter-day ‘Star Wars’ instalments – but with more intimate crossover between subject and object.

There’s also a running mafia theme in the movie, which is proving popular at the moment (many movie-goers are aching to see the new Soprano’s spin-off while Lady Gaga’s turn in House of Gucci is part fashionista / part mafiosa).

All up, Reminiscence is a movie that traverses genres as readily as it plays on your emotions. One minute you’re on the edge of your seat watching a fight-to-the-death scene between two key characters, the next you’re sighing over the mushiness between a human and a memory. Such is the magic of modern genre-bleeding cinema.

Produced and directed by Lisa Joy, co-creator of Westworld, it’s also a great slice of cinema to escape into at a time when the world is looking stranger than fiction; indeed more dystopian than the movies themselves.

Antonino Tati

‘Reminiscence’ is in cinemas from today.

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