Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy makes her feature directing debut with Reminiscence, starring Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson and Thandie Newton. Steve Newall spoke to Jackman and Joy during an online launch event for the trailer.
The first full trailer for Reminiscence introduces us to a partially underwater world of the future. Don’t worry, it’s not set in the same universe as Waterworld, but a sunken Miami hit by rising sea levels.
Another key element of the film, explained to us by writer-director and Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy in an online launch event for the trailer, is that it’s also “a world in which this technology can help access lost memories and put you back in that moment so you experience them completely fully. The sights, the sounds, the smells. You are back in that moment. Hugh Jackman’s character and Thandiwe Newton’s character have this business, a somewhat struggling business, where they help people retrieve memories for a cost.”
It’s a technology developed for interrogating prisoners during a future war that also shaped Jackman’s character Nick Bannister. “My character is a fairly, I would say, broken man at the beginning,” Jackman told us during the trailer launch. “Fairly tough exterior but his experiences in the war, on the frontlines, and also as an interrogator has left him really quite broken and really disengaged and distrusting of the world.”
This is something that changes when he meets Mae (Rebecca Ferguson), seemingly the femme fatale of this future noir-y piece. That wonderful technology that can go through people’s memories? She wants him to use it to… help find her keys. Their intense connection “changes everything, because he’s not expecting anyone to rock him in any way, particularly in a way that Mae does,” says Jackman.
“He’s just immediately intrigued, drawn in, mesmerised and increasingly becomes, after this relatively short love affair, obsessed with her and needs to really discover what has happened, because he knows in his heart that something bad has happened to her.” And so, in true noir fashion, Nick sets out to find a client who’s made one hell of an impression.
Those familiar tropes combine with new ideas in a way Jackman describes as “something new and original”. “This is not just sci-fi—this is humanity,” he told us in full-enthusiasm Hugh Jackman fashion. “It’s a heart ripping open; it’s life and death.”
When Lisa Joy said she wrote the role for him, Jackman joked he “thought that mean that Brad Pitt said no”. “I would like to be in Westworld, just to be clear,” he added.
As in Westworld, Reminiscence sees Joy is tackling detailed future world-building as well as some heavy concepts with relevance to our present. “I don’t actually say explicitly what year in the future it is,” she says. “That was really intentional for me because the future is catching up to us so quickly … I don’t want it to feel like sci-fi set indefinitely far away. I wanted this film at its core to be really relatable and really present and really, in a way, analog. I asked even for the colours in the set design to be warm-hued instead of those cold lights. The future isn’t this distant thing. It’s here, and the things that we do right now form our world so quickly.”
As for the ocean rising to engulf the coast of southern Florida: “If you look at newspapers you see it’s happening. It’s just a scientific fact.”
“I have in the film, as a source of conflict, the disparity of wealth in America. People who don’t have resources are pushed to the borders and left to sink or swim, and the wealthy are able to insulate themselves behind these walls of privilege both physically and emotionally.”