Lost your queen, pal? Care to find her, again? If yes, this is the story for you, one with a happy ending. You might say there is no such thing as a happy ending. All the endings are sad. Especially if the story was happy. Let’s just narrate a happy story but end in the middle. That’s what Nick Bannister did with Mae, right? Reminiscence becomes Nick’s happy ending.
Reminiscence, a science thriller film, marks the debut of Lisa Joy, who has written and directed the movie. The word “Reminiscence” suggests, it is a story about a past event narrated by a narrator. For the film, Hugh Jackman as Nick is your dream-voiced storyteller. The film also stars Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, and Cliff Curtis in prominent roles.
‘Reminiscence’ Plot Summary
The story pictures a dystopian Miami, flooded with ocean water due to the increase of water-level as a result of inevitable climate change. At the center of its plot is a private investigator, Nicolas “Nick” Bannister (Hugh Jackman), who uses a machine called “Reminiscence” to visit the memories of his clients. When the water levels rose, and flood brought misery to the world, there wasn’t much to look forward to, so people began to look back. The army developed the Reminiscence tank as an interrogation tool, but Nick found a new utility for it. He and his partner, Watts, help people visit nostalgia, a journey through memory.
Some people, like Nick’s war-time friends, Hank and Elsa Carine, visit Nick’s sanctuary often. Still, with regular customers, it’s hard to keep the work afloat. For security reasons, Nick and Watts keep records of all their customer’s reminiscence in a glass chip safely kept in a vault. Everything is going fine until Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) stops by the office.
Mae has lost her keys and wants to visit her memories to find them. It is a stupid reason for Watts to visit memories to find keys, but Nick Bannister is spellbound with Mae’s beauty. He helps Mae find her keys and finds out that she is a stage singer who works in a nightclub. In her memories, she hums the same tune that his late grandfather used to sing. Nick falls in love with Mae’s voice and certainly with her too. But soon, the happy picture ends as Mae suddenly disappears without a trace.
Why did Mae leave? What did she want?
There are some things we should never forget. And some things we can’t forget even if we want to. Nick hit the tank addictively to relive the memories he had with Mae. The question “why did she leave” kept haunting him for days until he finally found a clue.
Nick worked for DA Avery, who needed Nick’s skills to investigate the memories of felons. In one such assignment, he infiltrated the mind of drug dealer Mr.Falks to locate his boss Saint Joe, a baca (drug) kingpin. In Falks’ memories, Nick saw Mae working for Joe. Out of the blue, Watts revealed that Mae was a baca addict too. There were too many holes in the story, and Nick yearned for closure.
Out of curiosity, Nick paid a visit to Joe in New Orleans, but all Nick learned from Joe was that Mae ditched him and stole his drugs. The search progressed, and Nick asked Watts to visit the tank, as she was the last person who saw Mae at Nick’s den. Through Watts’ reminiscence, Nick found that Mae came to steal Elsa Carine’s reminiscence from his vault. The vault was secured by a memorable tune that only Nick knew about. That was why Mae had been studying Nick for months before committing the heist. She left as soon as she got Elsa Carine’s reminiscence.
Why did Mae want Elsa Carine’s reminiscence?
According to a rat (girl), Nick met at the floating market, Elsa had a young kid named Freddie who was abducted by Mae. Before Nick could plunge further, he was attacked by a corrupt cop, Cyrus Booth (Cliff Curtis), who worked for Saint Joe and knew Mae.
Nick visited DA Avery to find out about Cyrus but instead got the news of land baron Walter Sylvan’s death. At the protest outside the station, Nick recognized Baron’s wife, Tamara. She had visited Nick’s shop when he was just starting out. Nick connected a few dots and figured out that Walter Sylvan was in love with Elsa Carine. But Nick theorized that the royal Baron didn’t want another heir to his inheritance and thus had hired Cyrus to get rid of the boy, Freddie, and the mother, Elsa.
What happened to Mae?
Nick visited the city’s lost land, the recycling plants and located Cyrus Booth. He captivated the man and brought him back to his shop to investigate his memories and unravel the mystery.
Mae met her lifesaver, Frances, at a clapboard house in the middle of the waves. She had run away from Joe’s den, and Frances gave her hope to start afresh. But soon, the monster, Cyrus, arrived with a new assignment for Mae. He wanted Mae to steal Elsa Carine’s reminiscence from Nick’s vault. Cyrus’ master Sylvan wanted all traces leading to Carine being destroyed.
Mae was hesitant to steal from Nick as she was in love with him. Yet, she did the job because Cyrus blackmailed her into revealing her location to Saint Joe. However, when Mae learned that Cyrus would kill Elsa and Freddie, her conscience turned up. She failed to save Elsa but managed to hide Freddie, whose location was undisclosed until the end.
In anger, Cyrus overdosed Mae with baca (drugs), yet she refused to reveal Freddie’s location. In an incredible enchanting sequence, Mae revealed everything to Cyrus, but parallelly she was talking to Nick. Mae knew that Nick would catch Cyrus and play his reminiscence. And thus, she made sure to disclose her feelings for Nick and Freddie’s location before killing herself.
In the end, Mae stuffed her system with baca and jumped off from an elevated space. Mae did visit Nick at the shop, but before she could meet Nick, she was abducted by Cyrus, while Nick was lost in his memories. Past maybe Nick’s forte, but the future is beyond anyone’s control.
Where was Freddie? Who wanted him dead?
So, here comes the last piece of the puzzle. Mae told Nick about Freddie’s location through Cyrus’ reminiscence. She sent him to the clapboard house, where Frances took care of the lonely boy. Nick disclosed the location of the boy to the police, and they saved him from further threats.
It was time to face Freddie’s nemesis, his own brother, Sebastian Sylvan. Walter Sylvan was in love with Elsa and had promised to safeguard her and her kid, Freddie. But Sebastian knew about his father’s illicit affair and a stem branching out from the dirt. Sebastian hired Cyrus to finish off Elsa and Freddie, but Mae saved the boy. When Else disappeared, an ailing Walter requested Sebastian to find her (which was established in the opening sequences when Nick first visited DA’s office and overheard Walter’s conversation).
Nick solved the mystery of Sebastian’s greed, who didn’t want to split his father’s inheritance with his half-brother, Freddie. Nick gave Sebastian a chance to end himself and finish off his dirty regime. But he was too afraid, too afraid to accept, and too afraid to take a shot.
“Between memory and oblivion. I know which torture I’d choose.”Nick
‘Reminiscence’ Ending Explained
Nick had a conscience, and thus he was ready to confess to the crimes he committed. He burnt Booth’s mind to take revenge for Mae’s death. Booth was still alive, but his brain was flushed/ burnt. As a result, he was tormented to live the memories of his disfiguration again and again.
Nick visited his old pal, Watts, and told her that Booth killed Elsa and Mae. He asked Watts to hand over the reminiscence to Avery and solve their cases. Nick also requested Watts to find her daughter and reconcile her relationship while she has time. And at last, Nick confessed his crimes to Watts, who would duly deliver them to Avery.
After Sylvan’s crimes were made public, a civil rage broke out in the city to cleanse it for good. While walking to his shop, Nick found a floating queen card, but he didn’t pick it up this time. He had already lost his queen.
For his role in exposing the Sylvan conspiracy, Avery cut a deal with Nick. He didn’t get to walk away but was announced lifetime imprisonment with his reminiscence (with Mae in it).
In the end, Nick locked himself in the tank. He commenced his eternal journey through memories with no future destination. Instead, he traveled to space and time he had been before. Nick recorded his voice on a loop that would keep on guiding him through the same memories with Mae, again and again, until death rescues him from it.
A few years later, an old Watts visited the tank with her granddaughter. An aged Nick still playing his reminiscence with Mae in it. Watts took Nick’s advice and bridged her relationship with her daughter, but nothing much was left in the real world for Nick.
“A long time ago, we both chose our endings. He turned back, and I looked ahead.”Watts
The Real Ending of Orpheus and Eurydice Love Story
Nick knew that there is no such thing as a happy ending. All the endings are sad. Especially if the story was happy. Hence, with Mae, he finished his story in the middle, when it was happy for both of them. He compared his act with a Greek legend Orpheus, who used to enchant people with his music, just like Mae.
According to Greek Folklore, Orpheus’s wife Eurydice died from a poisonous bite of vipers. Orpheus played mournful songs for his love that even made God shed tears in melancholy. Looking at his ill state, God advised Orpheus to travel the underworld to bring back his wife. Orpheus’ music melted the hearts of the underworld gods, and they allowed him to return to the upper world with Eurydice, on one condition. He would have to walk in front of Eurydice without looking back until they had reached the human world.
Orpheus accepted the condition and walked to the upper world. But as soon he reached the Earth, he enthusiastically looked back to face Eurydice. In his innocence, he forgot that for the condition to be fulfilled, both Eurydice and Orpheus needed to be in the upper world before he could look back.
Orpheus found out that Eurydice didn’t cross the underworld, and thus according to God’s condition, she vanished forever.
For Nick, he only narrated the story until Orpheus met Eurydice in the underworld. It was the middle of the journey, and after that, a dreadful end followed. Mae curiously asked, “And they lived happily ever after?” Nick didn’t want to give a sad ending to his story and thus lied, “what other ending there be.” But we all know what happened to Eurydice. Orpheus never saw her again, not in real life, at least.
“Love is the thing we climb to. Rung after rung, we pull ourselves out of Ourselves, reaching for something greater. If we could just hold on.”Mae
Reminiscence is a 2021 Science Thriller film written and directed by debut director Lisa Joy. The film stars Rebecca Ferguson, Hugh Jackman, Thandiwe Newton, and Cliff Curtis in prominent roles.