Even though only a few fragments were revealed with the world premiere of its trailer overnight, Hugh Jackman’s latest movie Reminiscence bears all the hallmarks of Westworld, the series that was as much psychological thriller as it was sci-fi.
No surprise, really, considering the film comes from the mind of Lisa Joy, who makes her directorial debut after establishing an enviable reputation on the small screen as the co-creator and writer of Westworld.
Joining her on the project are a number of fellow Westworld collaborators, including British actor Thandiwe Newton, cinematographer Paul Cameron, production designer Howard Cummings and composer Ramin Djawadi.
Jackman plays Nick Bannister, a private investigator living in Miami at some point in the future and, from what we can see in the trailer, it’s a future that is verging on the post-apocalyptic.
The oceans have risen, flooding parts of the world, and the trailer alludes to a war, presumably over the remaining dry land.
Thankfully, things haven’t sunk to full Kevin Costner Waterworld levels — but it certainly doesn’t look like future peeps are having a lot of fun.
Newton’s character explains the situation in the trailer, revealing this reality is so unappealing that “nostalgia has become a way of life”.
“There was nothing to look forward to, so people started to look back,” she said.
While the technological specifics are a little hazy at this point, it seems as though people in this future have perfected a way to live inside their memories, which has become a popular pastime.
Jackman’s Bannister specialises in investigations that delve into these memories until, like any self-respecting film noir of yore, our hero’s life is turned upside down when a mysterious and troubled woman (played by Rebecca Ferguson) comes into his life.
Rest assured, plenty of action ensues.
Speaking at a press conference with Joy and his castmates to celebrate the trailer launch, WAAPA graduate Jackman revealed his character was a broken man, who had honed his memory investigation skills by interrogating people in the aforementioned war.
Joy said she wrote the part of Bannister with Jackman in mind but then had to fly to New York to meet with the Aussie actor and convince him to do it.
Newton, meanwhile, recalled Joy approaching her on the set of Westworld with the bare bones of what would become Reminiscence and asked if she could play Bannister’s mate in the movie.
“I hadn’t read the script or knew anything about it and then it was the most beautiful thing, a couple of days later she came up to me and said, ‘You can do this, why not’,” Newton said.
Reminiscence’s reality, in which people are obsessed with nostalgia, is eerily similar to the past year where millions in COVID lockdown have looked back at happier times.
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Harmless, perhaps, but only in moderation.
“The film is a real cautionary tale in many ways and for all of us the challenge is to be here and find our balance,” Jackman said.
Reminiscence will form part of a slate of movies to be released in cinemas in the coming months as the world looks to bounce back from the pandemic.
“We wrapped filming about a month before the pandemic ... but I feel that we’re now part of a wave of offerings from our industry that will not only entertain but uplift and open our hearts,” Jackman said.
“It’s certainly something new, it’s something original ... but honestly, I’m super, super excited.”
Reminiscence hits cinemas on August 19.