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The Souvenir

February 12, 2022

The Souvenir (2019)
Director: Joanna Hogg
Actors: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton

The Souvenir - EIFF 2019 Review - HeyUGuys

Synopsis: Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) is a young film student in London, navigating an intoxicating but troubling relationship with the mysterious Anthony (Tom Burke).

Review: My issue with Joanna Hogg’s signature previously has been that her slow, allusive style hasn’t really complemented the literary end-goal of her movies’ subject matter. Most of these films have been excruciatingly obvious exercises in subtext as their singular conceit plays out (trauma and depression in Unrelated, familial dysfunction in Archipelago, and the end of a relationship in Exhibition).

Here though, in Hogg’s fourth feature The Souvenir, that style is so much more rewarding because there isn’t a single reductive reading as such. It functions more as a memoir – so Hogg’s watchful and elliptical sensibility works beautifully in documenting how those memories are coloured by the senses as much as they are by clearly determined junctures in time and narrative. At times, the meandering quality and how Honor Swinton Byrne’s character’s travails in work and love dovetail and interweave are actually quite poignant. And Swinton Byrne herself is a major cause for the film’s convincing effect. She has such a gentle, sincere and experiential style, and doesn’t try to sell her character’s ‘journey’ too much. (February 2022)

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