The Greatest Showman stars Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson genre-swap the technicolor movie musical for sun-kissed film noir as they reunite for the mind-bending action thriller, Reminiscence. Lisa Joy takes her Westworld sensibilities to the big screen, making her directorial debut — and re-teaming with Thandiwe Newton — with another project that has characters navigating between reality and reverie.
Check out the first trailer for the noir-ish thriller below!
About the movie: 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?
Joy and the cast fielded questions during a special virtual press event for the trailer premiere.
“The experience working with Lisa was amazing,” said Daniel Wu, who plays one of the film’s antagonists, when asked what it was like being directed by Joy. “I’ve worked with many Chinese directors before. I’ve worked with a handful of female Chinese directors, but I’ve never worked with a Chinese American female director before, and it felt like working with my sister!”
“The part that was so wonderful working with Daniel with this,” Joy responded, “is creating a Chinese American character.”
One of the conceits of the film is that technology exists that allows people to explore their own memories. On set, Joy and her crew were able to project those “memories” on set without relying on special effects.
“For the actor, it’s just another example of how brilliant [Lisa] is to work with,” recalled Jackman. “[Her] empathy for actors and also understanding that this is not just sci-fi, this is memory, this is humanity, this is our reaction to all of these memories that are playing out. It’s the heart ripping open.”
Because memory and reverie are at the heart of Reminiscence, Rebecca Ferguson had the additional challenge of playing multiple versions of the same character Rashomon-style, all the while subverting the traditional femme fatale trope. “With Lisa, I always loved the balance of being able to play the femme fatale, but it was also for her own purpose,” said Ferguson. “There’s strength to the femme fatale in certain situations… [But] what is strong? That is not the question. The question is vulnerability and what we hide and the secrets and why we show certain things… I got to play around with different versions of Mae, the question is which one is the real one.”
“They often say love is a kind of blindness,” added Joy when discussing some of the relationships in the movie. “But I think love is the opposite. Love is being able to fully see someone — their flaws and their virtues — and still want to be with them.”
Finally, Thandiwe Newton answered my question about reuniting with her Westworld co-creator, especially because Maeve didn’t appear when Joy made her directorial debut in season 2.
“I was so excited for her to be directing for the first time. We were all thrilled for her, and I was bummed that I wasn’t in the episode,” said Newton. “We were in Singapore, shooting [Westworld] and she was on a computer writing Reminiscence. And I just came over and she said ‘you could be Watts, couldn’t you?’ and I’m like, ‘I actually don’t know what you’re talking about.'”
Newton continued: “A couple days later, she said ‘I think you can do this,’ and it’s been extraordinary to basically get my [Westworld] episode! It really is such a pleasure to work with this woman.”
Reminiscence debuts simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max on August 20.