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‘Reminiscence’: forgettable

Written by Tim Miller

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself cringing during “Reminiscence” (PG-13, 116 minutes, in theaters and on HBO Max).

It’s not the violence that will get to you. It’s the purple prose. This far-fetched, futuristic film noir, starring Hugh Jackman, features one pretentious line after another.

“Memories are like perfume. Better in small doses.”

“Don’t say ‘always.’ ‘Always’ makes promises it can’t keep.”

“Forgotten things can always be fished up and dusted off. But the lost, those things people never really took much notice of until they were gone, they’re defined by their absence.”

Ow, ow and ow.


Hugh Jackman in “Reminiscence.” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

They remind me of the things that sad-sack single Woody Allen would say to impress a date in “Play It Again, Sam,” such as “I love the rain — it washes memories off the sidewalk of life.” Except his lines were intended for laughs. These aren’t.

Written and directed by Lisa Joy, co-creator of HBO’s acclaimed “Westworld,” “Reminiscence” does tackle ambitious themes related to memories and the impact they can have on our lives. Joy has a lot to say here. Among other things, “Reminiscence” makes us question how healthy it is to revisit the past. If you could spend the rest of your life reliving happy memories, for instance, would you?

If only the film had addressed this with more subtlety, and through a story not quite so muddled and a lot more convincing. If only it didn’t seem to be trying so hard to be deep.

The story is set in a dystopian Miami where, thanks to climate change, the streets are permanently flooded and the weather is so hot that everyone sleeps inside during the day and is awake through the night.

Jackman plays Nick Bannister, who, with his associate Emily “Watts” Sanders (Thandiwe Newton), uses scientific means to draw clients temporarily into their pasts. Mystery woman Mae (Rebecca Ferguson), a nightclub singer and obvious femme fatale, shows up one night and gets an immediately smitten Nick involved in a convoluted case involving drugs, kidnapping and murder.

“Reminiscence” delivers one knockout barroom gun battle, and Daniel Wu, as drug kingpin Saint Joe, and Cliff Curtis, as Joe’s “muscle,” Cyrus Boothe, make memorable heavies. But the rest of the film doesn’t quite click, so we’re never drawn in enough to care what occurs in it. **½ (out of four)

** Click here for  Tim Miller’s previous movie columns for Cape Cod Wave **

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Tim Miller

Play It Again, Tim

Tim Miller is a Cape-based member of the Boston Society of Film Critics. He and Tony Raine host “Tim ’n’ Tony’s Rock ’n’ Pop Show” from midnight to 3 a.m. Sunday nights/Monday mornings on WOMR (92.1-FM), WFMR (91.3-FM) and (archived shows at He also teaches film at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or follow him onTwitter @TimMillerCritic. Or you can ignore him completely.

About the author

Tim Miller

Tim Miller, a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics, was the Cape Cod Times film critic for nearly 36 years. A Detroit native (and hardcore Tigers fan), he’s been obsessed with movies since skipping school in 1962 to see “Lawrence of Arabia” with his parents when he was 7. Miller earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and his master’s from Suffolk University, where he taught film and journalism for 10 years. He continues to teach film at Curry College and Cape Cod Community College. He is a juror each year for the short-film competition of the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival, has moderated several panel discussions at the Woods Hole Film Festival and frequently is heard as a guest on Cape & Islands NPR station WCAI. His work appeared as a chapter in the book “John Sayles: Interviews.” His favorite movie is Cameron Crowe's “Almost Famous” – because it makes him feel good to be alive.

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