Reminiscence (2021) is a Philip Dick story with a noir protagonist, set in a watery, dying world. Sounds promising? It is. And it’s not.
Reminiscence (2021) Synopsis
In a dystopian future where cities are flooded by the oceans, Nick Bannister makes a living by helping his clients to relive their most cherished memories. One day, a woman appears before closing time, pleading for help to locate her misplaced apartment keys. What begins as a simple job then blossoms into a romance, and mystery, that Nick finds impossible to extract himself from. In the words of his partner, he risks succumbing to the same obsession they warn their clients about.
Memories contain phenomenal powers, don’t they?
A simple one can enliven a suffering, dying person. Vice versa, a grim one can drive a person into depression, perhaps even suicide.
For writers such as Philip K Dick, “memories” furthermore birthed endless speculations. Could they be commercialised? Weaponised? Evolved into the most precious commodity on Earth?
What I’m saying is, any movie built on speculations about memories is bound to fascinate, as is the case with Reminiscence. While somewhat of a storytelling hotchpotch for some reviewers, I feel the heavy use of noir and art-deco elements added a layer of seductive draw too. Add to which is also the whole premise of Miami, and by inference, other coastal cities, being consumed by the oceans.
The latter is unnerving, given ongoing environmental concerns. It generates a gloom that completely befits the noir ambience.
As for the actual story, well, I think it was well-paced and acted in the first half. What then happened, so to speak, was that the tale dwelled too heavily over Bannister’s obsession. His so-called determination to know whether the love of his life exploited him.
It’s like, there’s only that much screen time available. Other plotlines have to take a hit, be it history, background story, or the full socio-political implications of a sinking world. At different points, these are almost rendered irrelevant.
Everything still ties up in the end, though; that’s a plus for the movie. Just that, you don’t leave the cinema with the satisfaction of having explored one of the most complex elements of the human experience.
Am I expecting too much for what might have been intended as no more than a romance mystery? Probably. But like I mentioned earlier, any movie constructed around the potency of memories is bound to fascinate, and correspondingly, invite high expectations.
It’s just not enough to build a story, the tale must define and expand too. Sadly, Reminiscence did neither.
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