The Souvenir (2019)

JOANNA HOGG

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 Independent Spirit Awards 2019National Board of Review Awards 2019.  

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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