Reminiscence on Prime Video — Tightly Woven Noir Mystery Drama
There are some genres that are simply difficult. The detective mystery noir genre is one of those things. I am huge fan of the detective genre. Then, when it applies some noir style to it, set in the a bad future or the bad past, I start making excuses for its flaws.
Add in a voice over style narration from the private eye, I am totally sold. That’s what happens in Reminiscence.
After a long, my need for a proper noir experience has been satisfied.
Cynicism, Fatalism, and Moral Ambiguity
A quick search for noir brings up— cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity.
It almost appears like the writer of this story started with this basic idea. Cynicism? Imagine a future where climate change has become an explosive reality, and the world is flooded like people used to predict back in 2000.
Then, create a future tech that can also act as a plot device. Insert a machine that helps people relive their best and worst memories on demand.
Then, include an adventure seeker who is damaged in so many ways. Make this guy a war veteran who has nothing to lose. Working a dead end business that is as shady and questionable as it can be. Give him an assistant who is just as cynical as he is, but let her arc end on a positive note. Hope has to be served at some point.
Fatalism? Of course. It was pretty obvious that our hero is not going to survive the tale of misery he brought upon himself.. A femme fatale enters the story in a red dress. It’s not possible to get more obvious than that. She is shady, but our guy is love on first sight.
For increased assurances, our heroine undresses to leave nothing to chance.
Moral Ambiguity? Loads of it here. Should I forgive the drug addict female? She did horrible things to the detective. Got some more people killed for own greed. Will one good deed at the end, balance out all the evil actions?
What about the detective who falls for an obvious trap? Should I leave any sympathy on the table for a guy who has given up on everything? Was he simply waiting for any excuse to get out of the hamster wheel?
Who knows how things work in a world where entire cities are submerged. One can only speculate.
Someone, who is not into noir stories like I am, will find this movie extremely dull. There is some world building but not much is done with it. For instance, the entire world is submerged. Life seems to be going on as usual for most people.
Mystery stories follow a set formula. That can be disappointing too for a lot of people. To me, already conditioned to these stories, this is a great movie.
Hugh Jackman makes for a fantastic detective who is solving the case of the missing girl. Ideally, the femme fatale is the one bringing the case. Here, she herself becomes the case. There are rich people pulling the threads, as always. There is the henchman who is shadowing the detective, and definitely has information which he refuses to give.
Ultimately, the prime suspect turns out to be some innocent looking side character. Just as it always is with stories like this one.
There is a sameness to everything, but it is a good sameness. Like a good James Bond movie or a Heist movie. I enjoyed the visuals. Every now and then the camera will pan to show a submerged world. There is water everywhere. People are traveling in ‘water taxis’ and entire markets that are floating.
Most of society has gone nuts, and police have given up. Rich folks have boarded themselves up and live a relative life of luxury despite all these problems. I also liked the ‘memory’ visualization plot device. It plays a central role to the story, and is integrated into the story nicely.
It provides the final clue, and also concludes the story, later. Very well done. This director, Lisa Joy, has done a wonderful job. Action, drama, crying and sadness. It’s all good.
Lately, I have stopped watching trailers of movies. When this movie landed on prime video yesterday, I did not know what to expect. Then, the narration kicked in. Dystopian world. Noir look. A mystery to be solved. The music, direction, acting and even some songs.
Everything is just about right.
Still, noir is an acquired taste. If you are not into this genre, this movie does not enough wide appeal to please everyone.
If you want to get into this genre, I would recommend any of the Raymond Chandler stories. Another is, Chinatown starring Jack Nicholson.