Hugh Jackman steps into the shoes of a “private investigator of the mind” in Reminiscence, the psychologically thrilling movie directed and written by Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy (set to be released on Aug. 20).
“You’re going on a journey, a journey through memory. All you have to do is follow my voice,” Jackman says at the beginning of the trailer.
This world is set in coastal Miami, sometime in the near future but Joy purposefully left out an exact date, after water has risen to a create sunken city that has become nocturnal.
At a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Joy explained that this is a time after a war where there is a community of people who are left disassociated from their past. That’s where we meet Nick Bannister (Jackman) who uses technology to interrogating people and look at their memories. The characters played by Jackman and Thandiwe Newton (who was also on Westworld) have this business where they help people relive memories for a cost.
Things change when they get a new client, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson), who disappears and leads Bannister to find the truth about who she is and her disappearance.
While this may be expected from the creator of Westworld, the trailer is definitely action-packed but asks a number of intellectual questions to set the scene for an intriguing and layered sci-fi adventure, looking at what happens when nostalgia becomes a “way of life,” because there is seemingly nothing to look forward to.
Hugh Jackman was the only lead Lisa Joy would work with
There was only one person Joy would work with as the lead for Reminiscence, so luckily Jackman was on board.
“Hugh was daft enough to let me into his house and let me pitch this thing to him without reading a script but…when I was writing it I knew it was him and I just couldn’t imagine anyone else," Joy said.
Jackman joked that hearing he was Joy’s only choice for the lead, he thought that meant Brad Pitt said no.
The actor described his character as a “broken man” at the beginning of the story with a tough exterior from the war and from his work as an interrogator, but Mae changes everything.
“He's just immediately intrigued and drawn in and mesmerized, and increasingly becomes...obsessed with her and needs to kind of really discover what has happened," Jackman explained. "He knows in his heart that something bad has happened to her and he just won't accept any other version of the events.”
Rebecca Ferguson is not just a femme fatale
While the character of Mae may initially come across as a generic femme fatale, Ferguson (reuniting with Jackman after The Greatest Showman) stressed that this is a more complex character, a more realistic and wholistic character, which allowed the actor to play with “different versions of a Mae.”
“I think one of the most lovely things for me was to go into the realism of all of us,” Ferguson said. “I sometimes get these questions that I get quite sick of, of what is it like being a strong woman, that's what you portray, and I think it's quite simple journalism.”
“What is strong? That is not the question. The question is vulnerability and what we hide, and the secrets and why we show certain things and where we're going.”
Daniel Wu (Into the Badlands) plays the villain who is also a victim of the war that happens just before the beginning of the film. He teased that his character's work is a mirror to what Bannister is doing, providing an escape for the moment.
“I’ve played villains before but not a villain like this where he is so three-dimensional and so human,” he said.
Wu praised working with Joy, describing the experience of working with the Chinese-American director like “working with [his] sister.”
Joy said it was particularly wonderful to create this character, which includes Wu speaking a blended Chinese-English, similar to what the director speaks at home.
“We worked really on changing his speaking to be this organic kind of home-brew blend that happens when you are raised in a country but also speak the language of your parents,” Joy said, adding that she learned more swear words from Wu while making Reminiscence.
Joy added that much of the film is also commentary on our current society, including disparity in wealth and people with privilege being able to insulate themselves behind physical and emotional walls.
“For me what science fiction is, is metaphor," she said.
"It's metaphor on a grand scale for the things that we are experiencing in this world, for the tremors that we feel underneath our feet that we know are going to become quakes at any moment. It's a way of examining the world around us.”
Reminiscence is set to be released on August 20, 2021