Reminiscence Plot Synopsis
With the future a bleak, miserable existence, people naturally look to the past for solace. Step forward Nick and his friend Watts, who operate a business that houses a memory machine. These “reminiscences” offer a brief respite from the current-world horrors – and boy are people addicted.
So that makes the plot all the more ironic given Nick himself happens to be one of these addicts. After-hours he ventures into the dark recesses of his own memories. In the past, he became romantically linked to a femme fatale called Mae, who stumbled into his office by chance looking for help.
However, when Mae disappears without a trace, leaving a single earring outside, Nick remains determined to find out what happened.
How does the memory machine work?
In this futuristic world, many people rely on the past for their entertainment. At the forefront of this lies Nick Bannister and his assistant Watts. Subjects who want to relive their past are partially submerged in a water tank, with a strange machine placed over their head. This seems to be what connects the cerebral cortex to a visual interface.
This interface comes in the form of a holographic reenactment of whatever that subject is seeing. There seems to be some form of hypnosis involved too, given how calm Nick talks to his subjects.
These “reminiscences” allow the subject to relive their desires and wishes – even rekindling relations with a lost loved one too. However, business isn’t exactly thriving.
What happened to Mae? Was she kidnapped?
Near the start of the movie, Nick finds himself smitten with a mysterious stranger who wanders into his office looking for help. This is Mae, and she’s lost her car keys. It’s a simple enough set up and the pair eventually end up becoming romantically linked.
When Mae disappears, leaving behind one earring outside his building, Nick instantly believes something is amiss and sets out to discover exactly what.
Well, it turns out Mae was involved with some very powerful people. In this world of rich-getting-richer and poor-getting-poorer, the elite are known colloquially as Barons.
During Nick’s investigation he finds out Mae used to be a drug addict and hung around with a drug lord known as Saint Joe. Joe also kept company with a crooked cop known as Cyrus.
After recovering some memories and further flashbacks, Nick catches up with Cyrus and the two fight in a flooded building. With Nick coming out victorious, he takes Cyrus back to his office where he straps the crooked cop down and demands answers.
What’s the story between Cyrus and Mae?
Through Cyrus’ memories we see exactly what happened to Mae in the past.
Cyrus actually hired Mae to get close to Nick to steal Elsa’s recorded memories. Now, Elsa is one of Nick’s regular clients and her older lover – the one whom she continues to revisit during her dive into the memory machine -is actually a rich man called Walter Sylvan. He’s the powerful Baron that was killed off-screen earlier in the movie.
Anyway, Elsa’s missing child is actually Walter’s illegitimate son. This causes problems for Walter’s real son Sebastian who doesn’t take too kindly to the idea of sharing his inheritance. So to solve this problem, Sebastian paid Cyrus to kill Elsa and destroy any trace of her relationship with Walter. Given the memories stored at Nick’s place, this includes murdering Elsa and using Nick to break into the safe and destroy the memories.
Does Mae really love Nick?
Here’s where things get complicated. This perfect heist is thrown completely askew when Mae grows closer to Nick. Despite being planted in this role, Mae actually has real feelings for Nick and was falling in love with him. She continuously delayed getting the safe combination – which led Cyrus to losing his patience.
At which point she began feeling this is left up for debate but it’s clear that she dropped the earring on purpose to guide Nick closer into investigating this case.
Is Mae still alive?
In order to save Elsa’s child, Mae stopped Cyrus and took this kid away to a remote island with an old friend. Unfortunately, Mae is killed for her part in all this. Given Cyrus is responsible for her death, when Nick finds out he can hardly control his rage.
While Cyrus is still hooked up to the machine, experiencing his most painful memories of getting burned, Nick fries Cyrus’ brain with the machine. With everything looking like it’s wrapped up, and the case closed with the Walter Sylvan issue, the movie throws one more twist our way.
What happens at the end? What is the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice?
During the final scenes of the film, the camera pans out to reveal a much older Nick being kept sedated and becoming one of the reminiscence subjects. Given how these memories have become integral to how law enforcement works, it’s fair to say that Nick’s actions would ordinarily have seen him jailed or worse – given a death sentence.
Well, Nick cuts a deal with the DA and manages to live out his days in the tank, reliving his time with Mae repeatedly while an older Watts checks on him.
There are also parallels here in Nick and Mae’s love story to that of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. (To be fair, the movie isn’t exactly subtle with this detail!)
Within this story, Orpheus makes his way into Hell and convinces Hades to return Eurydice’s soul. Hades agrees but on condition that Orpheus doesn’t look behind on his way out. Well, that fable ends in tragedy and in a way, so too does Reminiscence. Nick and Mae can never truly be together, and instead live out as doomed lovers, ending the movie on a bittersweet note.
Read More: Reminiscence Review
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