The Souvenir (2019)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5

United Kingdom/USA, 2019, , , , Screenplay by Cinematography by Produced by Joanna Hogg, Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by

makes an excellent film debut as a young woman reportedly based on director Joanna Hogg’s own early experiences in film school.  She’s the daughter of rather posh, rather distracted parents who have put her up in a flat where she entertains friends while preparing to start her academic year, excited about the film she is planning to make as a student project.  She meets Anthony (), a debonair, cultivated gentleman with whom she begins a pleasant and polite affair, and in her naivete doesn’t see the signs of things going wrong until she’s deep into her feelings for him: Anthony is a heroin addict, and she’s not equipped to deal with it.  Hogg’s spare and unsentimental film has one of the least interesting stories you’ll have seen in a movie, the tale of an insecure girl whose coming-of-age occurs thanks to the pain of an eye-opening relationship is not exactly unfamiliar, but intelligent direction coaxes realistic performances from all (including a wonderful , playing her real-life daughter’s mother) and refuses to allow anything to feel manipulated or melodramatic.  It’s not a journey of discovery that our main character goes on, we simply observe her daily actions and reactions before things reach the inevitable result and she must make a permanent decision about how she will cope.  Its subtle flavour is not for everyone’s taste, but there’s a strength to its subtle visual style, recreating the eighties without any campy flourish, that makes it memorable and impressive even when it is at its least fascinating.

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