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Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Daniel Wu, Cliff Curtis, Nico Parker, Angela Sarafyan, Natalie Martinez, Marina de Tavira
OUR RATING: ★★½
Sci-fi thriller written and directed by Lisa Joy. Set in the near future, Reminiscence (2021) follows Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a private investigator of the mind, who offers clients the chance to relive any memory they desire. His life changes when he meets a new client, Mae (Rebecca Ferguso). What begins as a simple matter of lost and found becomes a passionate love affair. But after Mae disappears, Bannister has to delve through the dark world of the past to uncover the truth about the woman he fell for.
Our Favorite Quotes:
Nick Bannister: The past can haunt a man. That’s what they say. That the past is just a series of moments. Each one perfect. Complete. A bead on the necklace of time. The past doesn’t haunt us. Wouldn’t even recognize us. If there are ghosts to be found, it’s us who haunt the past.
Watts: You’re late.
Nick Bannister: “Late” is a construct of linear time. We don’t deal in that.
Watts: And yet, we charge by the hour.
Nick Bannister: It used to be you couldn’t go back again. But time is no longer a one-way stream. Memory is the boat that sails against its current. And I’m the oarsman. When the waters rose, and war broke out, there wasn’t a lot to look forward to, so people began looking back. The tank started as an interrogation tool, and since then nostalgia’s become a way of life. But for Watts and me, it’s a living.
Nick Bannister: You’re going on a journey. A journey through memory. Your destination? A place and time you’ve been before. To reach it, all you have to do is follow my voice.
Watts: You keep putting s**t on the house for your war buddies, the roof’s liable to cave in.
Nick Bannister: We’ll be fine, Watts. Nostalgia never goes out of style.
'Memories are like perfume. Better in small doses.' - Nick Bannister (Reminiscence) Click To Tweet
Nick Bannister: Truth is, nothing is more addictive than the past. Who wouldn’t want to be reunited with a loved one? Or relive the most meaningful moments of their life? But memories, even good ones, have a voracious appetite. If you’re not careful, they consume you.
Watts: [offer him her flask of drink] Here. Have some. It’ll help with the pain. You think I can’t tell when you’re hurting?
Nick Bannister: Well, I have the leg. What’s your excuse?
Watts: I work for you.
Nick Bannister: There are certain moments that never leave you. Like the moment I first saw her.
Nick Bannister: Forgotten things can always be fished up and dusted off. But the lost, those things people never really took much notice of, till they were gone. They’re defined by their absence.
Watts: You can’t remember something that never made an impression.
'That the past is just a series of moments. Each one perfect. Complete. A bead on the necklace of time. The past doesn't haunt us. Wouldn't even recognize us. If there are ghosts to be found, it's us who haunt the past.' Click To Tweet
Nick Bannister: You don’t need much to unlock a flood of memories. Trick is finding the right one. Relax. It always works out fine.
Mae: Don’t say “always”. “Always” makes promises it can’t keep.
Nick Bannister: When the sun rises, Miami turns into a ghost town. To escape the heat of day, the city’s become nocturnal. But sleep doesn’t come easy. We’re all haunted by something.
Nick Bannister: Years ago, the battles at the border ended, but the battles at home had just begun. We try to go on like nothing’s changed, but underneath, the city simmers with unrest, which means the DA’s office is never short of work.
Nick Bannister: During the war, barons like Walter Sylvan bought up all the drylands for pennies on the dollar. They profited off the desperate and left them to live at the mercy of the tides. The displaced carry on the best they can. One day, the ocean will reclaim all of this. Until then, the Sunken Coast is where they call home.
'Missing people is a part of this world. Without that sadness, you can't taste the sweet.' - Watts (Reminiscence) Click To Tweet
Nick Bannister: Will you tell me something I’ve been wondering about? Before you performed, last night, you were crying. Why?
Mae: That was my memory. Shouldn’t you have just seen the things I was looking at?
Nick Bannister: Why were you crying?
Mae: Nerves. Happens before every gig. I step onto that stage, and they don’t want to see a
woman in a thrift store dress, wondering how she’s going to make rent. They want something perfect. They want to be lied to.
Nick Bannister: You don’t seem like you’re lying.
Mae: Well, I guess it’s working.
Mae: [to Nick] That machine of yours, how close can you get before the illusion’s broken?
Nick Bannister: People tend to notice the same things they were focused on in the moment. I mean, it’s possible, if you revisit the same memory enough to notice new things. But if you’re not careful, you can get burned. Have that moment seared in an endless loop in your mind.
Mae: That’s why you never go in the tank?
Nick Bannister: Memories are like perfume. Better in small doses.
Mae: Maybe you haven’t made the right memories.
Watts: Jesus Christ. You’re in here again?
Nick Bannister: No, no, no, no! Put me back! Put me back!
Watts: For months now, you’ve been hitting this tank, reliving every damn memory you had with her. You have to get your head out of the past and into the here and now!
'Memories, even good ones, have a voracious appetite. If you're not careful, they consume you.' - Nick Bannister (Reminiscence) Click To Tweet
Watts: It’s been months, Nick. I can’t keep turning a blind eye to this.
Nick Bannister: I’m the boss, not you. And I’ve turned a blind eye to plenty.
Watts: Well, the difference is, I know what I’m going to find at the bottom of a bottle. And it’s not answers.
Nick Bannister: [referring to Mae] We were happy. We were planning for the future. She wouldn’t just disappear, not without a word.
Watts: She settled up with her landlord. She emptied her apartment.
Nick Bannister: She would have told me. Why didn’t she tell me?
Watts: All I know is, wherever she is, she has moved on. And you should too.
Nick Bannister: People don’t just vanish. Okay? She must be in some kind of trouble.
Watts: We’re the ones in trouble, Nick.
Nick Bannister: I try to forget. But even without the tank, she haunts me.
Nick Bannister: You can’t find one memory without moving through others. I couldn’t just see the things I was asked to find. I saw why they ran in the first place. When the waves came for them, they had no walls to hide behind.
Mae: And the people, what happened to them?
Nick Bannister: The world moved on. Trying to pretend like none of this happened. But there are some things we should never forget.
Mae: And some things we can’t forget even if we want to.
'When you're young, you think the future will be one thing. You see it play out like a string of dominoes. You have no idea the things that are lined up.' - Swati (Reminiscence) Click To Tweet
Nick Bannister: Where did she go? Why did she leave? People don’t just disappear.
Mae: Are you awake?
Nick Bannister: No.
Mae: Then I must be dreaming too.
Mae: You do this to impress all the girls?
Nick Bannister: Only the one I’m in love with.
Mae: You don’t love me. We’ve only known each other a few months.
Nick Bannister: You know how many sunsets I saw in the trenches? One thousand four hundred and fifty-eight. I counted them, every minute. Sunset was the last few minutes before the fighting began again. I used to wonder how I could spend those moments better. Now I know.
Mae: Tell me a story.
Nick Bannister: A story? What kind of story?
Mae: One with a happy ending.
Nick Bannister: No such thing as a happy ending. All endings are sad. Especially if the story was happy.
Mae: Then tell me a happy story, but end it in the middle.
Nick Bannister: Ever hear of Orpheus and Eurydice?
'Maybe memory fades for a reason. If we just dwelled on the bad things in the past, we'd never get over them. And if we just dwelled on the good, we might never match it again.' - Mae (Reminiscence) Click To Tweet
Nick Bannister: Saw a lot of runners at the border. There are more elegant ways of stopping a man than a bullet.
Harris: Yeah? I heard your partner didn’t share the same philosophy.
Watts: Only philosophy I had was “don’t die”. And I went through plenty of bullets trying to keep it that way.
Nick Bannister: Dying men always want closure. Some last, happy thought to cling to before they die.
Nick Bannister: You took a misstep. You just traveled down the wrong path. But now you’re back. Back to somewhere you’ve been, with someone you know.
Mae: [from Falks memory] Do you remember the first time we met? I was broke. Alone. I thought I had nothing left to lose. But I was wrong. I still had a shred of innocence, a glimmer of hope. And then I tried baca. And it took everything away. The innocence, the hope. But also the fear, the hurt, the guilt. I became invincible because nothing mattered. Nothing but these little pearls.
Nick Bannister: Who was she? Who was she when not with me? Was she the woman I knew? Or that stranger I saw? Was she running from the past? Or racing back towards it? To find where she’d gone, I had to know where she’d been.
Nick Bannister: I need vermillion baca, ten pallets.
Saint Joe: Bulk, eh? You got balls. Bocce-sized.
Nick Bannister: I’m looking for a woman.
Saint Joe: Some niu ran out on you? I guess your balls ain’t so bocce-sized after all.
Saint Joe: [to Nick] I haven’t seen Mae since she skipped out years ago. Don’t feel bad. She fooled me just like she fooled you. Hey, I know exactly what she took from me. Drugs, money, time. But what did she take from you? Hmm? Oh, poor guisunzi. You’ve been had, and you don’t even know why.
Mae: Maybe memory fades for a reason. If we just dwelled on the bad things in the past, we’d never get over them. And if we just dwelled on the good, we might never match it again.
Nick Bannister: There aren’t any memories you want to hold on to?
Mae: I guess there’s one.
Watts: What are you even looking for in there?
Nick Bannister: What she took from me. She was a grifter, playing me, looking for something.
Watts: No offense, Nick. But what would she want to take from you?
Nick Bannister: The only thing of value I have doesn’t belong to me.
Watts: Right. Some bulls**t memories. You’re reaching.
Mae: You don’t like me, do you? Why?
Watts: Nick’s good at seeing people in the tank. My eyes are clearer out here. You’re hiding something.
Mae: I’m an addict. I was. In New Orleans, I got hooked on baca.
Watts: And you haven’t told Nick. He wouldn’t judge you.
Mae: He wouldn’t look at me the same way either.
Watts: Why are you telling me?
Mae: Because you will judge me. But it won’t change the way you see me.
Watts: I’m not one to judge.
Watts: The problem with going dry is the mind is clear. But the hands, they shake. All it took was one wrong spark. Lit up that whole place like Independence Day.
Watts: I went back to the bottle. Only thing stopped me drowning in it was Nick.
Mae: That’s why you stayed all these years. Loyalty.
Watts: That, and he doesn’t pay me enough to drink myself to death.
Mae: Men are strange, aren’t they? They don’t see what’s right in front of them.
Watts: There’s nothing to see.
Mae: We both know that’s not true.
Watts: Whatever you saw in there, please don’t jump to conclusions, Nick.
Nick Bannister: What am I supposed to think? I mean, this whole time, you’ve been keeping this from me?
Watts: It’s complicated. I didn’t want to ruin things between us.
Nick Bannister: I’m a friend of Elsa’s and I want to help. I think she’s in trouble.
Titch: How the hell are you supposed to help her now? She’s dead.
Nick Bannister: Who was she? Who was she when not with me? A liar. An addict. A killer. I had to find her. But it turns out, she was already looking for me.
Cyrus Boothe: [to Nick] Forget about Mae. She’s moved on. And I suggest you do the same.
Watts: In all the time that you knew Mae, how much did you really know her? How much did you really love her?
Nick Bannister: Why the hell do you care?
Watts: Because I know how blind you can be. You’re hurt because you thought you were in love. But it wasn’t real. She was an idea wrapped in a tight dress. An absence you wanted to pour all your broken pieces into.
Nick Bannister: You think I’m chasing an absence? Well, at least I’m chasing something. I’m not just running away all the time.
Watts: What’s that supposed to mean?
Nick Bannister: You ran away from your own daughter.
Watts: You can be a real son of a b**ch, you know that?
Nick Bannister: But it’s true, isn’t it?
Nick Bannister: Everything you cared about. Your ex, your kid, your job. You left.
Watts: I never left you.
Nick Bannister: Well, maybe you should have. Because I’m no better than the bottle for you. I’m just another place to hide.
Nick Bannister: What you have with me isn’t a life. It’s barely a living. Maybe it’s best if you moved on.
Watts: You’re firing me?
Nick Bannister: I’ll call one of the pods on your behalf. I’ll set you up with a good gig.
Watts: Screw you and your charity. This isn’t about me! This is about you and your goddamn obsession!
Watts: I’m asking you. I am begging you. Don’t go down this path. Stay here, in this life. Stay here with me.
Nick Bannister: I’m sorry, Watts. I have to do this.
Watts: Fine. You made your choice. I just hope to hell that you survive it. Because I won’t be around to save your a** the next time.
Nick Bannister: The barons stay afloat by drowning everyone else. They say the only ones to survive the Titanic were the rich and the rats. The barons are both.
Swati: When you’re young, you think the future will be one thing. You see it play out like a string of dominoes. You have no idea the things that are lined up.
Nick Bannister: Tamara, where are Boothe and Mae?
Swati: Where do you think? With all the other trash you can’t throw away.
Nick Bannister: There’s only one place where the trash piles up, alongside all the city’s lost souls. The old recycling plants. To find Boothe and Mae, I had to go to Hell itself.
Cyrus Boothe: But nothing’s an accident with Mae. Everything’s researched, meticulously calculated. You can hate her for it. But who are you to judge? Mae and me, we’re from a different world. The one that sank. When the waves came, they washed away our lies. Revealed what this world has always been. A wilderness with one rule. Survive, or die. A place like that is beyond good and evil. Only sin left is self-deception. Telling yourself that you’re better than everyone else. That you deserve to be standing while everyone else sinks. I’ve never labored under that delusion. Always seen myself exactly for what I am. And I see you too.
Nick Bannister: Where is she?
Cyrus Boothe: You think you’re some avenging hero.
Nick Bannister: Where is she?!
Cyrus Boothe: You’re just an empty man looking for a woman to blame. Come on, shoot me. You won’t get what’s in my head. You’ll never get to Mae.
Nick Bannister: People love their secrets. They think secrets are the one thing they can take with them when they go. But not you, Boothe. You don’t get to keep your secrets, or hers.
Cyrus Boothe: You think you want answers, but you don’t. You’re blind with rage. And there’s safety in that. Your ignorance protects you. Because when you finally see Mae for who she really is, the truth ain’t going to set you free. It’s going to damn you. Like me.
Nick Bannister: She planned everything. The song. The earring. Oh, my God, even the lost keys were a setup. This whole time, I was nothing but a mark.
Cyrus Boothe: [to Mae, referring to Nick] Don’t tell me this gimp screwed a conscience into you? I’m touched. But remember, in this line of work, a conscience will get you killed.
Nick Bannister: [to Boothe] Mae. She came back. Because of me. What the hell did you do to her?
Mae: [from Boothe’s memory] I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier. But you’re here now, aren’t you? We have this one last chance.
Nick Bannister: Yes, Mae. I’m here. I’m right here.
Mae: There are so many things I wanted to tell you. But I was scared. You looked at me in a way no one’s ever looked at me. I wanted to be that person you saw. It’s so stupid of me to think falling in love could save me. People like us don’t fall in love. We plummet to places, deep and dark. But love? Love is the thing we climb to. Rung after rung, we pull ourselves out of ourselves, reaching for something greater. If we could just hold on.
Mae: [continuing from Boothe’s memory] I wish I could’ve held on longer.
Nick Bannister: Stay. Stay.
Mae: I love you, Nick.
Cyrus Boothe: Nick? Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?
Mae: The man who’s going to kill you!
Nick Bannister: [to Boothe, after seeing Mae committ suicide] Mae was wrong, I’m not going to kill you. Because dying is easy. A few moments of suffering and then nothing. You deserve more than nothing. You deserve to remember. We’re going on a journey. A journey down a path you tried to forget, but never could. A journey to your worst fear, your worst pain.
Nick Bannister: [to Boothe] Feel that fire? Burning like it did that night. But this night will never end. This night will be with you for the rest of your life! This is where your journey ends!
Sebastian Sylvan: I won’t let them take me.
Nick Bannister: Between memory and oblivion, I know which torture I’d choose. But you’ve never done your own dirty work. I doubt you have it in you to start now.
Nick Bannister: Turns out, you’re my only friend.
Nick Bannister: I wish I’d fired you a long time ago.
Watts: Jee, thanks.
Nick Bannister: I see clearer now all the things that I missed. Your best moments aren’t behind you, Emily. They’re waiting for your arrival. Your daughter, go find her. There’s still time.
Watts: You’re acting like I won’t see you again.
Nick Bannister: You’ll see me. I’ll see you. You’ve always been there for me. I don’t expect that will change. But first, you’re going to have to hear my confession.
Nick Bannister: It started, as you know, with a set of lost keys. Only, they were never really lost in the first place, not even misplaced. It started as a con, but by the end, it was something real.
Nick Bannister: The past doesn’t haunt us. Wouldn’t even recognize us. If there are ghosts to be found, it’s us who haunt the past. We haunt it, so we can look again. See the people we miss, and the things we missed about them. I see you fully now. Your darkness and your light. Shimmering, like the city at dusk when it’s most beautiful.
Zoe: [referring to Nick] Grandma? You miss him, don’t you?
Watts: Missing people is a part of this world. Without that sadness, you can’t taste the sweet. A long time ago, we both chose our endings. He turned back, and I looked ahead. I like to think that we both chose right for ourselves.
Nick Bannister: As I held her in my arms, I thought of a story. It’s a tragedy, but only if you stop at the end.
Nick Bannister: Ever hear of Orpheus and Eurydice? They were a couple very in love. Until one day Eurydice died.
Mae: That’s a horrible story.
Nick Bannister: I’m not in the middle yet. Orpheus descended to Hell, begged the Devil to release her, until, finally, the Devil agreed, with one condition. He couldn’t look back until they had escaped.
Mae: And what happened?
Nick Bannister: Orpheus took her by the hand, and led her back to life.
Mae: And they lived happily ever after?
Nick Bannister: What other ending could there be?