The Souvenir


A young film student in the early ’80s becomes romantically involved with a complicated and untrustworthy man.

Loosely based on her own experiences at film school, ‘The Souvenir’ is a film from Joanna Hogg about a young female artist starting her career whilst coping with an increasingly destructive relationship at home. It’s a well crafted, personal piece of work from Joanna Hogg and I admired it at a distance, but the film never truly involved me in Julie’s story and I felt that it was often dull and paced so slowly that it barely reached walking speed.

The best thing about ‘The Souvenir’ is the performances, namely Honor Swinton Byrne who is superb in the leading role of Julie. She’s clearly inherited her mother’s acting genes (who also features in the film as her mother), and I felt she gave a compelling portrayal of a young woman finding her way in the world. Tom Burke is also excellent as Anthony, her troubled partner, and the ebbs and flows of their relationship form the main thrust of the plot, with Julie’s experiences trying to make her first film acting as breathers in essence from the domestic drama. I think perhaps one of the reasons I didn’t take to the film is that the relationship between Julie and Anthony is so raw, damaged and it made for uncomfortable viewing. I can’t find fault with the acting or the craft on display, but I was never truly gripped by their story.

Shortly after the film was made it was announced that this is the first film in a two parter, with a follow up to Julie’s story to come at some point down the line. I’m not sure that there was enough here for me to interest me in continuing to follow Julie’s story, but I’ll be keen to see what Swinton Byrne ends up doing next.

Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Joanna Hogg

Starring: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton, Ariane Labed, Richard Ayoade and Jack McMullen

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