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What to Expect from ‘Reminiscence’

Lisa Joy’s new movie looks at the dangers of reliving memories.
Reminiscence Hugh Jackman
Warner Bros.
By  · Published on August 6th, 2021

Welcome to Great Expectations, a recurring series in which we break down the most essential information about an upcoming movie or show. In this edition, we look at what you can expect from — and where you can watch — Reminiscence.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what it would be like to set up camp in one of your memories, you’ve come to the right place. The new movie Reminiscence explores the nuances — and dangers — of memory. And while it is Lisa Joy’s directorial film debut, you can count on her to deliver a profound meditation on the implications of living in a fantasy world, as she previously worked as a director on the HBO series Westworld.

Here’s everything you need to know about Reminiscence:

Reminiscence Release Date (and Where to Watch)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the release of Reminiscence was delayed by a couple of months. Now, it’s set to hit theaters and stream on HBO Max simultaneously on August 20, 2021. However, it will only stay on the streaming service for one month, so plan accordingly.

Reminiscence Cast

Not only does Reminiscence have a killer, high-concept premise, but it also has a killer cast. The film stars Hugh Jackman (Logan), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Fallout), and Thandiwe Newton (Westworld).

The cast also includes Cliff Curtis (The Meg), Marina de Tavira (Roma), Daniel Wu (Into the Badlands), Mojean Aria (See), Brett Cullen (Joker), Natalie Martinez (Death Race), Angela Sarafyan (Westworld), and Nico Parker (Dumbo).

The Plot of Reminiscence

Reminiscence takes place in Miami at some unspecified time in the future. In this alternate reality, global warming has entered full crisis mode. There is a giant wall in place to block rapidly rising sea levels, and heat is so oppressive that people sleep during the day and only come out at night.

As an escape from the hellish reality that everyone faces, Nick (Jackman) runs a company that gives clients the chance to relive a memory of their choice for a fee. But his lifestyle becomes significantly more complicated when he meets Mae (Ferguson), and the two start an intense affair. Later, when another client reveals memories that recall Mae in serious crimes, Nick feels a personal responsibility to unearth the truth about this mysterious woman.

The Inspiration

Writer/director Lisa Joy told The Hollywood Reporter that the inspiration for Reminiscence came from a memory of her own. After her grandfather died, she discovered a plaque with a woman’s name on it — the same name as his house. She then became intent on finding the significance behind the name and subsequently unearthed a photo of a beautiful woman who must have been important enough in her grandfather’s life for him to name his house after.

She said:

“It made me start thinking about memory and our lives in general and the moments that pass by and disappear… that meant something, that changed us. And how nice it would be to be able to go back to those memories, fully, for a moment. To live a life and feel the way he felt when you experienced them.”

Joy experienced these kinds of significant memories first-hand when she had a child. She recalled:

“I thought, ‘I wish I could bottle this.’ I would know, as exhausted as I was, this was a magical moment. More meaningful than college graduation or awards or fancy dates people memorialize. It’s those small moments that mean everything. That gave me an idea of how much of life that we value is in those small moments.”

Watch the Trailer

Based on its premise alone, it would be pretty hard for Reminiscence to not be totally badass. The trailer assures audiences that it will be. From its overwhelming mysterious, film noir-type atmosphere to flashes of ferocious action sequences and of course, a captivating love story at its core, it is impossible not to be drawn into Joy’s unique science fiction vision.

If all that all sounds too good to be true, watch the trailer for Reminiscence for yourself:

How Lisa Joy Defied Harmful Tropes

In an interview with Empire, Lisa Joy discusses how she fought back against the sometimes harmful femme fatale stereotype. She says:

“Part of the idea of rebelling against tropes is that you’re surrounded by them all the time. So it makes it so deliciously fun to say, ‘Alright, this is probably how they see it: a beautiful girl in a red dress walks into a bar; this is what you think. She’s nice to you; this is what you think. Ooh, she did drugs; this is what you think.’ Right? And to take those different lenses and use it to propel a mystery where the truth can only be revealed when you learn to see beyond tropes.”

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Aurora Amidon spends her days running the Great Expectations column and trying to convince people that Hostel II is one of the best movies of all time. Read her mostly embarrassing tweets here: @aurora_amidon.