Oubli is a sleek earpiece that, through neuroscience, allows the user to access and relive only happy memories. But for the device’s marketing director, Sophie Clé (Aja Naomi King), the fond memory of seeing her mother the day before she died is continually interrupted by her violent death, which Sophie maintains she never witnessed. Oubli’s method of tapping into the subconscious affords writer-director Jose Nestor Marquez an efficient excuse to adopt a dreamlike aesthetic where reality and memory are frequently blurred. But as Reversion sprints from one rote verbal or physical showdown to the next, with the thematically blunt dialogue offering precious little to ponder, it becomes apparent that such a potentially outré narrative is at the mercy of oppressively mechanical storytelling.
Sophie receives her haunting visions mere days before Oubli is set to launch, and the stress from this is compounded when she’s kidnapped and subsequently released by Isa (Jeanette Samano), a mysterious woman with knowledge of a possible conspiracy involving Oubli’s inventor (and Sophie’s father), Jack (Colm Feore). From Reversion’s outset, Sophie is established as a rational and fiercely independent person, yet Marquez routinely pushes her to the sidelines as a listener to other characters’ expositional confessions. It’s even jarring to see how little Sophie appears to invest in uncovering the Oubli conspiracy given how much it personally affects her.
Oubli, in its convenient way of expressing Sophie’s thoughts, is less of an allegory for modern technology’s anxiety-inducing effects than it is an expository vehicle; the film’s visuals, reflective of Oubli, are therefore mere affectation. As evidenced by an early focus-group scene that sets up the central device, Marquez hints at ideas concerning the questionable consequences of completely ignoring bad memories, though these complexities are stifled by a rigid formula that favors wrapping up the conspiracy plot sans ambiguity. Reversion may look like a dream, but it plays like someone reading a congressional report on corporate finagling out loud.