Writer-director Joanna Hogg follows up on her critically acclaimed 2019 coming-of-age drama, The Souvenir, with The Souvenir Part II.
Julie Harte’s (Honor Swinton Byrne) story continues where it left off in 2019 with Julie seeking to know more about Anthony’s last days. In many ways, the sequel improves on its predecessor. Julie no longer sees the world as she did during the earlier film. She’s changing for better or worse. Like many artists in real life, Julie decides to use film as a way of sorting through her grief for Anthony. The result is a graduation film, appropriately titled The Souvenir, that seeks to break down fact from fiction.
In a lot of ways, the film works as a mix of documentary and drama. There are a lot of scenes with behind-the-scenes drama. Nothing like seeing a little inside baseball, right? Hogg gets into the minds of what cinematographers want when it comes to setting up scenes. Julie’s script is not your traditional script regardless of whether or not it’s for a feature or short film. In fact, the school didn’t even approve it at first! How about that?!? Of course, Julie powers through with her cast and crew and turns in a finished product that would play well in art house theaters. One can only wonder if the graduation film will be included as a short film on the Blu-ray.
Making her graduation film is no different than working on any film. There are fights with cinema instructors at the Raynham Film School. The crew members argue with Julie about the script and whatnot. At one point, the shot is set up and ready to go before Julie decides that she wants the shot from a different perspective. While there’s the drama with family and friends, the film is at its best when it comes to the filmmaking aspect.
Joanna Hogg injects a lot of herself into Julie but there are some differences between the character and herself. However, both are just as introverted. However, both are working in a male-dominated industry that makes it hard for female filmmakers to grow their own voice let alone confidence.
It’s been two years since I saw The Souvenir. If you’re looking to refresh yourselves, the film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. I didn’t do a back-to-back screening of the two films. However, I’m curious to see how the two films play when watched back to back. In watching the sequel, it is not hard to think that the films might work as one complete film when viewed together so to speak. After all, if Kill Bill can be considered one film, so can The Souvenir and The Souvenir Part II.
The Souvenir Part II delivers a complex but beautifully told story by way of a self-portrait.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Joanna Hogg
CAST: Honor Swinton Byrne, Jaygann Ayeh, Richard Ayoade, Ariane Labed, James Spencer Ashworth, and Tilda Swinton
A24 releases The Souvenir Part II in theaters on October 29, 2021.
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