The trailer for Lisa Joy’s sci-fi action thriller Reminiscence just dropped! I was fortunate enough to attend a virtual trailer launch and Q&A with the brilliant director herself, along with cast members Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, and Daniel Wu, to discuss the filming process, themes, and what to expect from the film.
“Nothing is more addictive than the past.”
Our lives are made up of countless moments – ephemeral occurrences that carry along with them distinct emotions, sensory experiences, and impressions. Reminiscence posits the question: what if we could bottle these moments? What if we could re-experience our most precious memories just as we lived them? In the near future, Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) runs a declining business that deals in reminiscence technology. With his business partner Watts (Thandiwe Newton), Barrister provides a gateway for clients to escape from the harsh present. However, a simple request from a new client, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson), unexpectedly develops into an obsessive, passionate relationship. But when Mae disappears, Barrister must unravel her past through others’ memories and question whether she was really the woman he’d loved. Check out the first trailer for Reminiscence below:
The most intriguing aspect of science fiction is not the spectacle, but its ability to take its viewers out of their understanding of the empirical, known world. In this unfamiliar environment, we are asked to examine the things that we believe in and hold onto the most – the things that make us human. In Reminiscence, the audience is transported to the sunken city of Miami, where day has turned into night. Joy rejects the utopian sci-fi spectacle, opting for a setting that could very well become our future.
As to why Joy chose this setting, she says: “I don’t actually say explicitly what year in the future it is. That was really intentional for me because the future is catching up to us so quickly … I don’t want it to feel like sci-fi set indefinitely far away. I wanted this film at its core to be really relatable and really present … I asked even for the colors in the set design to be warm-hued instead of those cold lights. The future isn’t this distant thing. It’s here, and the things that we do right now form our world so quickly.” It is through this realistic lens that Reminiscence explores the universal themes of love, identity, and escapism.
“Who was she when not with me?”
The trailer for Reminiscence hints at the richness of both the world and characters that inhabit the film. The watery motif reflects the complex nature of characters like Barrister and Mae. Who we appear to be on the surface when interacting with one person may be completely different from how we view ourselves. Barrister desires Mae, someone that he doesn’t fully understand. Throughout the film, we will see him reconcile with all her dimensions, both good and bad. Reminiscence asks its audience: what are the limits of love?
“My character is a fairly broken man at the beginning,” Jackman explained at the Q&A. “[He has] a fairly tough exterior; his experience during the war as an interrogator but also on the front lines has left him quite broken and really sort of disengaged and distrusting of the world.” The introduction of Mae into his life “changes everything. He’s just immediately intrigued … and after a short love affair, increasingly becomes obsessed with her. [He] needs to really discover what has happened, because he knows in his heart that something bad has happened to her.”
We also get the first glimpse of Saint Joe (Daniel Wu) in the trailer. As a foil to Barrister, Saint Joe provides a similar escape from the present moment, albeit through very different means. “[Lisa and I] had so much fun creating this character. I’ve played villains before but not a villain like this where he’s so three-dimensional and human, but still evil at the same time,” Wu remarked. “This is probably the first time you’ve seen a Chinese guy with a southern accent on screen.”
The trailer also teases some unique action set pieces involving Wu, Jackman, and Newton that will undoubtedly stand out in this summer’s slate of movies. Other cast members include Cliff Curtis (The Meg), Marina de Tavira (Roma), Angela Sarafyan (Westworld), and more!
Reminiscence will be released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max on August 20th.