While the trailer has just been unveiled, Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson and director Lisa Joy evoke “Reminiscence”, a sci-fi thriller expected on August 18 in our theaters.
Just over two months before its release, scheduled for August 18 on our screens, Reminiscence has set the tone with its trailer. And raised some questions. The first feature film directed by Lisa Joy, co-creator of Westworld, this sci-fi dark film will plunge us into a futuristic world, where it is possible to revisit memories thanks to the technology used by a private investigator.
Until the day when a new affair turns into an obsession for him and locks him in a time loop. While the trailer was unveiled to us in preview, Lisa Joy and her actors Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson spoke with the world press to lift the veil on this mysterious project, which is still far from having revealed all its secrets.
AlloCiné: Where did this idea of a person able to delve into people’s memories come about?
Lisa Joy : It came to me when I was at a pivotal point in my life, in a village in North London, after my grandfather passed away. There, all the houses are modest, made of bricks. But at the entrance to that of my grandparents, there was a plaque announcing his name, “Suki Lin”, as if it were a mansion. And that’s something that always fascinated me when I was a kid, because I wanted to know where the name on it came from.
When my grandfather died, among his belongings I found an old photo that must have been taken in Asia, during one of his trips when he was working for the UN, fifty or sixty years older early. And behind it was written “Suki Lin”. After working for the United Nations, my grandfather spent the rest of his life in Huddersfield with my grandmother, and they had my father. He never mentioned her, but something must have really marked him so that he gave his name to his house, and kept this photo.
It made me think about this notion of memory, of memories, in our life in general. At all those moments which pass and disappear but which had a meaning for us, have perhaps changed us. I then said to myself that it would be nice to be able to dive back into those memories, relive those moments and feel what we felt at the time.
It was also when I was pregnant with my first child. Besides, I finished writing Reminiscence shortly after giving birth: I remember one night when I held my daughter in my arms, on the verge of daze because of fatigue – as if I was was drunk – and I thought I’d like to bottle his scent, that special smell babies have.
It was a short time but one that made more sense to me than events like my graduation. And it made me realize that what matters to us is these little moments, and how wonderful it would be to be able to revisit them.
It would be nice to be able to dive back into those memories, relive those moments and feel what we felt at the time.
What was the tone you were looking for the film, and its trailer?
Lisa Joy: This is going to sound weird because I talked about my grandfather and my daughter in an emotional way, and I wrote a thriller with action (laughs) Elements of film noir too. But it’s my daughter’s fault, and the pheromones during my pregnancy (laughs) The story takes place in Miami, in the near future, and the coincidence that an article published today mentions the possibility of the construction of a wall six meters high, to face the rising waters.
In my film, the waters have risen and there are walls to prevent them from going too far into the land. People live at night because the temperature is too high during the day, and the country has just suffered from conflicts. A war that has separated a very international community of people from their pasts within these borders, and we see them attempting to determine what their future will be. Among them is Nicholas Bannister, played by Hugh Jackman, who is a minded private investigator.
During the war, technology was developed to interrogate people by exploring their memories in order to find out how they felt. And I get this idea from a science class I attended a long time ago, where we were told that, during brain surgery, touching certain neurons could revive forgotten memories in a patient. . This is where this technology comes from that Nick and his partner, played by Thandiwe Newton, have made a business of: helping people recover their memories for money.
And one day their new client arrives, the mysterious Mae played by Rebecca Ferguson, who has lost her keys and wants a little help finding them. But this help turns to passionate love, then to obsession, and plunges Nick into this very dark world where he tries to find out what happened to her, who she really was and what she really wanted.
The trailer is illustrated by the song “Save My Love”, which immerses us in the emotional aspect of this quest. How important was his choice for these images? And how important is the music in the film?
Lisa Joy: The music is very important, including for the plot. Rebecca sings there wonderfully in the role of Mae for example. The attraction she arouses isn’t just based on her beauty, personality or warmth: a song, depending on how it’s sung, will bring music to this world and can help define someone. Music has always had this capacity to transport us when we hear a song that is familiar to us. It can transport us to a place, a time. It is in a way the first memory machine.
I’ve always wanted her to be very special here. I worked on the soundtrack with Ramin Djawadi, with whom I had already collaborated several times [sur Westworld notamment, ndlr]. We played around with the film noir codes, but I wanted to update them. To make it reflect Nick Bannister’s arrogance, we’ve added some bass. And percussions to accompany the action. Each of our characters has a theme, and if you listen carefully, the music gives clues.
As for the trailer, I wanted a song that would feel natural in the movie. Who would have grown in it organically. It was important to me, to everyone who worked alongside me on the film and invested themselves, that there was the same degree of passion in the song. So I explained to a producer what I was looking for and after seeing the movie he directed me to Lorna and Amber Mark, who I imagined to be the perfect singers, for their international side as much as their soul.
We wanted Nick’s arrogance, but also the breadth of the movie, to be in this song. A little sensuality too. And mystery. The music and instrumentation had to be consistent with the rest of the soundtrack, to make it sound like a whole. So was born this song that I must have listened to a billion times now (laughs) But it is a good thing.
Each of our characters has a theme, and if you listen carefully, the music gives clues.
Hugh, what can you tell us about your character, that minded private investigator?
Hugh jackman : He runs the company Bannister & Associés, which consists of himself and his partner, played by Thandiwe Newton. And we offer people, not to revisit their memories, but to relive them. Feel them, see them, touch them, hear them. Thanks to a technology developed during the war during which my character had to use it for interrogations.
At the beginning of the story, he is someone broken. He appears physically strong, but his experience during the war as an interrogator has left its mark. Indifferent and suspicious of the world around him, while his company is on the decline at best. But the arrival of Mae will change everything. He no longer expects anyone to shake him in any way. And especially not the way she does it.
He is immediately intrigued and fascinated, then becomes obsessed with her after their short romantic affair. He then wants to find out what happened, because he knows deep down that something wrong has happened to him. And that’s how he embarks on this odyssey through the darkest corners of Miami.
Rebecca, you are familiar with complex and mysterious characters, but this one looks different from the previous ones. What drew you to the role of Mae?
Rebecca ferguson : The first thing to know about Lisa is that you listen to her talk and think, and she does the same. There is no one way to look at it. And it was my conversations with her that made me want to take on the role of Mae.
One of the first things we talked about was who we are, who we really are. I’m not the same with all of you, and it might not be how I see myself. Or the way I would like to be seen.
I really liked the idea that, in the film, the character is constructed through the eyes of everyone else. It was a real challenge, on several levels. It was unpredictable. And there was this environment, this nocturnal world in which the plot takes place. The pressure and the consequences are higher there.
Interview by Maximilien Pierrette in Paris on June 2, 2021