A shy but ambitious film student falls into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship with a charismatic but untrustworthy older man.
Even in the writing of this review, I continue to toss ‘The Souvenir’ around in my mind. I left the cinema disappointed and frustrated by it, wishing it had let me in more instead of simply presenting itself to me, but a friend had told me that it is a film that grows on you. I think they may have been right. The more I interrogate Joanna Hogg’s film, just as Joanna Hogg interrogates her own life, the more fascinating questions and provocations I find. Right now, I like the film more than love it, but I said the same a year ago about Chang-dong Lee’s ‘Burning’, and on my second viewing realised that was actually a masterpiece. I’m not sure the same will happen with ‘The Souvenir’, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, when you ask me my thoughts on it in a year, my answer may be different from what it is now. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of ‘The Souvenir' is that Hogg always intended for it to be a two-part film, with Part II currently filming. Maybe it’s just that we haven’t seen where else she intends to go, what is next in Julie’s development as an artist, how tragedy will shape her as an artist and as a human being. In that sense, despite its flaws, ‘The Souvenir’ may be one of the most interesting provocations in independent cinema in the last few years. The more I think about it, the more I’m keen to try it again, and the more I’m keen to see where Julie’s story goes next.
- Daniel Lammin
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