They speak the bad – or good – languages that it is tremendously probable that any story that is told today, in whatever medium and regardless of genres, styles and tones, it has already been told in a thousand and one ways before. This, which may sound bleak, is not necessarily something negative, since in this artistic expression there is always room to spice up archetypes and shape refreshing and original works despite being propped up on well-known foundations.
Unfortunately, sometimes, explosions of creativity are not enough to stimulate the mind of the viewer and make him forget pre-existing references. It is then when, watching a feature film, the footage that circulates on the screen remains in the background; its place being taken by memories of titles that have previously done the same – and possibly better –, and by a succession of patterns repeated ad nauseam that end up weighing down the experience.
This is precisely the main evil from which ‘Reminiscence’ suffers; the big screen debut of the hitherto cathodic Lisa Joy —’Westworld’—. An ambitious and watered-down cocktail of quintessential sci-fi film noir that, Although it has an undeniable appeal in conceptual terms, it is weighed down by a soporific and out-of-step narrative, and by a string of – very – common places adorned with an almost imposing pomposity.
The Spanish premiere of ‘Reminiscence’ is preceded by the infamous record that places it as worst US premiere of all time for a movie released in over 3,000 theaters. Since the data was known, they have been looking for explanations of all kinds to such a commercial bump; although after having seen it a lot that I fear that, leaving aside its poor promotional campaign, the main responsible for the debacle has been the production itself and the soporific of its content.
While a sequence shot of a digital situation —not too well resolved, it must be said— places us on a dystopian east coast of the United States ravaged by floods, the film welcomes us to its peculiar universe through a cumbersome first act that puts on the table all the cards that will be played later, and that are mostly centered by the most popular clichés of the black classic and its contemporary replicas; including the presentation of a femme fatale, essential in the story, bordering on the cartoonish at this point.
Perhaps the greatest referential statement of intent on the tape is the use of a voice-over that, despite fulfilling its mission, muddies the narration between bombastic phrases and an abuse of the resource. Through the protagonist’s verbalized thoughts, ‘Reminiscence’, only in its first act – and this will extend throughout the entire projection -, underlines themes and thesis, provides context, overexplains and bombards the eardrums of the respectable with an exhibition Oral necessary to fill in the gaps and make the whole take on a minimum of meaning.
Once they have entered the first half of their second act, despite the boredom beginning to make an appearance, derived from an erratic rhythm and a dramatic progression that invites us to think about a complete season of a summarized series summarized in a couple hours, the enigma posed by the plot is powerful enough to maintain a minimum of attention. But this mirage takes little time to fade, revealing open secrets not so surprising through dialogue that lead to an end to the party that, when it arrives, is already too late.
This feeling of being before a cathodic production is reinforced by the predominance of medium and short shots in a staging that, except for occasional flashes, is uninspired and in the antipodes of the great success of the film: a remarkable retro-futuristic production design that manages to shape a unique, tangible world rich in detail that extracts gold from the modest – taking into account its aspirations – a budget close to 80 million dollars. If we add to this the solvent photography direction of Paul cameron —Beneath his most brilliant works like ‘Collateral’, yes—, doubts that the greatest attraction of the length is its shape are completely dissipated.
Between punctual yawns, furtive glances at the clock and bits of admiration for the dedicated work of Hugh Jackman and, above all, an impeccable Rebecca Ferguson, ‘Reminiscence’ appeals to the viewer’s memory in the least desirable way possible; reminding him sequence by sequence that there are wonders neo-noir / science fiction like ‘Blade Runner’, classics like ‘Perdition’ or ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and contemporary puzzles like ‘Memento’ – confessed inspiration of the director – who already played the same keys, but in a much more satisfactory way.