Starring Hugh Jackman (Logan, X-Men franchise), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible movies), and Thandiwe Newton (HBO’s Westworld, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Reminiscence, an action thriller written, directed, and produced by Lisa Joy (HBO’s Westworld) arrives at the scene and premieres exclusively in the Philippines on HBO GO on October 4.
Nick Bannister (Jackman), a private investigator of the mind, navigates the darkly alluring world of the past by helping his clients access lost memories. Living on the fringes of the sunken Miami coast, his life is forever changed when he takes on a new client, Mae (Ferguson). A simple matter of lost and found becomes a dangerous obsession. As Bannister fights to find the truth about Mae’s disappearance, he uncovers a violent conspiracy, and must ultimately answer the question: how far would you go to hold on to the ones you love?
Known for her extensive work on the HBO science-fiction drama series HBO’s Westworld, Reminiscence marks Joy’s feature film directorial debut. The film was produced by Joy, Jonathan Nolan, Michael De Luca and Aaron Ryder. The executive producers were Athena Wickham, Elishia Holmes and Scott Lumpkin. Several HBO’s Westworld collaborators comprised Joy’s creative team, including director of photography Paul Cameron, production designer Howard Cummings, editor Mark Yoshikawa and composer Ramin Djawadi, along with costume designer Jennifer Starzyk.
Looking Back, Moving Forward
All during her first pregnancy, Lisa Joy was never far from her laptop. The coinciding moments of profound loss following the loss of her grandfather and the prospect of new life stoked the creative sparks that compelled her to explore the overriding theme of memory within a wholly-created and genre-bending world. The filmmaker says, “Some of the most incredible moments of our lives are locked in our heads; they’re the stories that we revisit again and again, that make our life worth living. Sometimes, those stories aren’t shared by anyone else and so when you go, they go. In the end, I think we all become stories. We coalesce into a couple sentences over generations, and I’ve always thought, ‘Try to make it so your sentences are good, that you add more joy into this world than you took from it.’
A New Kind of Noir
For all the cinematic acumen and film references present in Joy’s work, it is surprising that she did not grow up steeped in the art of cinema. Her real instruction in and appreciation for the classics began when she was in college, working as an au pair in her senior year to “finance working for literary magazines in New York.”
When her young charge had been tucked in for the night and his parents had gone out, Joy would hole up in bed and watch old films. She confesses, “Film noir really spoke to me, the same way that mythology spoke to me. They are both about complex people in a world that can be dark, cruel, lawless. There are no clear-cut heroes, no clear-cut victims. The complexity of those characters navigating that world, that’s what I was drawn to. In writing ‘Reminiscence,’ I wanted to delve even deeper into that complexity, twisting around traditional notions of noir… starting with the term ‘noir’ itself. We’re used to those kinds of films being very dark and for me, I wanted it to be flooded with light and natural beauty because sometimes the darkest things hide in the most beautiful surroundings.”
Assembling a Memorable Cast
In the case of her leading man, the filmmaker’s reputation opened the door, but the goods—even the promise of them—sealed the deal. Hugh Jackman tells, “When I met with Lisa, she had shown me some of the visuals and I understood what the movie was about in general, but I hadn’t seen the script. And I was already excited about it. I was excited about the world of the film. I was excited about the character and about her as a writer-director. I think she’s incredibly talented, but when I met her in person, she just gave off an air of confidence and surety, not only about the material, but how she was going to tackle it. Her passion for it. It’s a rare thing for me to just have that instant sort of gut feeling that ‘I’ve got to do this’ and, to be honest, I felt that 20 pages in when I later got the script.”
Rebecca Ferguson likewise responded to Joy and her way with words, both spoken and on the page. Ferguson says, “Lisa’s way of writing—there’s a poetry, a musicality without sounding ridiculous. It makes me, as an actor, want to be absolutely truthful to each and every word. I think, other than the writing, the first thing I fell in love with was that Mae was portrayed in many different ways. She’s portrayed through others’ ideas of her. Her existence is defined by each person who thinks they see her. Talking to Lisa, it became, who is Mae? What is her true identity? When does she let things slip through the cracks? I’d never done something like this before.”
For the part of Watts—Nick Bannister’s support and colleague in one package—Joy turned to the “inimitable” Thandiwe Newton. Newton reveals, “When Reminiscence came along, it took me a week just to wake up to the fact that Lisa wanted me to be a part of her first feature. I don’t think it’s an obvious choice to have me in the role, but that’s where magic kind of happens—when you’re entrusted to do something bold, something different, to use my skills as an actor to transform. With Watts, I got to explore and play a personality that I don’t think I would’ve necessarily gotten the opportunity to do.”
The film stars Cliff Curtis (The Meg, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw), Oscar nominee Marina de Tavira (Roma), Daniel Wu (TV’s Into the Badlands, Warcraft), Mojean Aria (TV’s See and Dead Lucky), Brett Cullen (Joker), Natalie Martinez (The Stand and The Fugitive series), Angela Sarafyan (HBO’s Westworld) and Nico Parker (Dumbo).
Stream or download Reminiscence and catch indelible performances from Thandiwe Newton and Angela Sarafyan across three seasons of HBO’s Westworld on HBO GO. Download the app at the App Store or Play Store on your device. You can also access HBO GO via Cignal or at https://www.hbogoasia.ph/. HBO GO can be accessed via Android TV, Apple TV, LG TV and Samsung Smart TV – and comes with AirPlay and Google Cast functionality.