The Souvenir is A Contender

The Souvenir. Photo by Diana Patient. Courtesy of A24.

Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir is a very well made film and make no mistake that we’ll be talking about the indie film during awards season.

Aspiring British filmmaker Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) attends film school in the 1980s while also dealing with boyfriend Anthony (Tom Burke).  It’s not the best of relationships to say the least.  Perhaps the most comical moment comes when Anthony fights her over their bed space.  More fun comes with references to the likes of It Happened One Night‘s Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable along the way.  This relationship is one that manages to test boundaries with her mother (Tilda Swinton).

As a filmmaker, Julie is still trying to find her voice.  There is no doubt that she is standing in for writer-director Joanna Hogg.  Moreover, this is such a personal film for her fourth feature-length film.  It’s not easy finding your voice as a filmmaker.  Trust me, I’ve written various screenplays over the years.  None of them are at that level of perfection just yet.  Anyway, trying to find that voice while tackling a romantic relationship is easier said than done.  There’s a point in the film where Julie confesses to needing more “me time.”  There will come the time in which Julie must decide that film is more important.  Sooner rather than later, of course.

Like mother, like daughter.  It’s safe to say that the apple does not fall far from the tree.  Honor Swinton Byrne delivers a breakout performance as a film student.  She’s remarkable and we’ll be hearing her name for a while.  Please trust me on this one!  Anyway, having Tilda and Honor portray mother and daughter lends the film another sense of authenticity.  We never doubt their relationship in the film.  Not even for a minute!  I couldn’t help but wonder if the dog is their family dog.  It would lend an even extra layer of authenticity if this is the case.

As far as filmmaking goes, it’s safe to say that The Souvenir really is a thing of beauty.  It really is.  There honestly is no other way to say it.  My biggest regret is that I did not attend a screening during Sundance.  Oh, well.  Anyway, we’ll certainly be talking about The Souvenir again come December and January.  Make no mistake that this film is one that we’ll be talking about when it comes to best directing.  For the love of everything holy, please remember Joanna Hogg’s name.

CAST:  Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, and Tilda Swinton

A24 opens The Souvenir in theaters on May 17, 2019. Grade: 4.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.