Director: Joanna Hogg
Starring: Honor Swinton Bryne, Tom Burke
Release Date: May 17th 2019
Winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance is no easy task. It’s difficult to even be considered, let alone win the top honors. The Souvenir won out early in the year, and when viewing this technically sound film you certainly see why. On the contrary, that doesn’t mean it’s any more entertaining to watch than your average Netflix film. The Souvenir is a semi-autobiographical romance/coming-of-age film about director and writer Joanna Hogg.
The cinematography by David Raedeker must be highlighted, it’s superb and the standout aspect of the film. Nearly every shot is beautiful or unique in its own way. We should all be looking forward to seeing his future work, as his work in this film cannot be ignored.
Honor Swinton Byrne plays our lead, Julie, a naïve young girl who goes into film school to pursue her passion for filmmaking. Byrne does a decent job with her first leading role, showing a range of emotion while having some chemistry with her counterpart Tom Burke, her older boyfriend Anthony. Burke does a decent job as well starring as Anthony. The issue with Anthony is it there was no way to see the appeal with his character. He was supposed to be a charming, charismatic guy it would seem, but he falls short of that (even from the introduction of his character). Throughout the film it is impossible to see why Julie puts up with Anthony. It is hard to tell if it was a flaw on the acting, or the script. Either way the dynamic of these two did not make sense.
The tone is incredibly bland from the start, and as the movie progresses you expect for it to eventually build up. Unfortunately it does no such thing. The movie remained constantly boring and dry for the remainder of its 119 minute run time (which is also a drag). Things happen in the story that should have some effect on the tone, but the boyfriend (Anthony) is so unlikeable and dry that it is impossible to care. Luckily, Tilda Swinton who stars as Julie’s mom brightens up the screen and gave the film more life than it had. Sadly she was only given 30 minutes of screen time. It would have been nice to see more of Julie’s loving and exciting mom than her boyfriend Anthony.
With a sequel in the works, one can only hope the new Batman Robert Pattinson (who has been confirmed as new character) can help liven the sequel up. The Souvenir is great example of a piece of work that is technically excellent in many ways, but isn’t entertaining to watch. For a lover of film this movie is beautiful and excellent. From an entertainment stand point this one is about as dry as ramen noodles without the seasoning.