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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Amid the double-crosses and violence, the film encourages perseverance and empathy. People can change and overcome challenges to do the right thing.
Positive Role Models
Nick is determined, focused (some might say obsessed), willing to put himself in harm's way to find and save Mae. Watts is protective, brave. Mae could be considered a stereotypical femme fatale, but she's more nuanced than she initially seems. Villains are ruthless.
Cast includes a Black woman and an Asian man, as well as a couple of Latino supporting characters. One briefly shown character is a veteran who is a double amputee. Female characters have layers and agency, although they're also depicted as making sacrifices for male characters and, in some cases, as victims.
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Violence & Scariness
Fairly high body count; not much blood/gore. More than one shoot-out, a near-drowning, a form of torture that forces the recipient to relive their worst memory. A near execution. A character is stabbed. Guns are used to intimidate/threaten. A man's face is burned. A child is abducted.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple kiss and make love (not graphic, but it's clear they're having sex). A woman reminisces about being in bed with her lover (it's blurry; only her getting in bed to face him is shown). Mae disrobes; viewers can see her bare back.
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Occasional strong language, including some slang that's difficult to decipher. Words heard include "s--t," "ass," "goddammit," "whore," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Two characters live with substance abuse: One is a functioning alcoholic, the other admits she's an addict (the drug is an opioid-like pearl with a made-up name).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Reminiscence is an atmospheric film noir thriller set in a near future where climate change has left Miami underwater and sharply divided by wealth. Violence includes a couple of big shoot-outs and chases. People are also tortured and killed and die via both suicide and overdose; a child is abducted. There's occasional strong language ("s--t," "ass," "whore") and some sexual activity (flirting, kissing passionately, and making love). Substance use/abuse is a big part of the story: One character is known for alcohol dependence, and another is a recovering drug addict. Despite the story's darker elements, it also encourages empathy and perseverance. The film marks the directorial debut of writer-producer Lisa Joy (Westworld) and stars Hugh Jackman, Thandie Newton, and Rebecca Ferguson. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Writer-director Lisa Joy's directorial debut has much in common with her previous work in Westworld and shows her taste for dark, depressing universes populated by broken characters. Jackman is compelling as Nick, a man who spends most of his time guiding customers into their favorite moments, until Mae breaks down his walls with one torch song. Newton (fabulous in Westworld) gives another nuanced performance here, even though her character isn't as well-rounded in this supporting role. Ferguson, who had a pivotal role opposite Jackman in The Greatest Showman, once again plays a character who can use her voice (and, in this case, Jessica Rabbit-meets-Kim Basinger femme fatale looks) to seduce any man she targets. The movie's action sequences lean heavily on orchestrated shoot-outs; one in particular makes memorable use of the song "Tainted Love" and is thrilling to watch.
Many have pointed out the similarities between the style of Reminiscence and that of Joy's filmmaker brother-in-law, Christopher Nolan (especially in Inception), as well as parallels to movies like Blade Runner, noir classics, etc. But all movies can be reduced to elevator-pitch equations, and some of those criticisms border on being sexist. Joy's world-building is intriguing; she just leaves a lot of fundamental questions about what happened to that world unanswered, chief among them what exactly the "border wars" were about and how they affected everyone, beyond the tattoos that all of the war's veterans seem to have. In some ways, the first two-thirds of the movie would have made for a thought-provoking TV series like Westworld -- but as a self-contained film it's a bit scattered. Joy knows how to build mesmerizing dark places filled with broken people looking for hope, love, and redemption; now she just needs to refine and polish that vision.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.