In the aftermath of her tumultuous relationship, Julie begins to untangle her fraught love for him in making her graduation film, sorting fact from his elaborately constructed fiction.
Joanna Hogg’s ‘The Souvenir’ (now ostensibly ‘The Souvenir Part I’), a personal film based on her experiences at film school, received wild critical acclaim and was registered on many year end best of lists, yet I found it a little distant and dare I say dull. In my review of that film I said I wasn’t sure I’d be interested in following the next stage of her protagonist (and surrogate) Julia’s journey, yet here I am, sucked back in on account of more good reviews! And I’m glad I was, because I thought ‘The Souvenir Part II’ was a far more satisfying movie and it wrapped up this pair of films very well.
This movie picks up after the tragic events of the first film, finding Julia in a troubled space, coming to terms with the death of her partner whilst trying to prep her graduation film – a film that is about her experiences within that relationship. Honor Swinton Byrne was terrific in the first film and I’d say she’s even better here as she is forced (partly by herself) to confront the circumstances of Anthony’s death and its impact on her life. The film plays out as a film within a film and that allows Hogg to explore extra layers as she, and by extension Julia, go into their personal experiences in as deep a way as feasibly possible. I enjoyed Richard Ayoade again as an asshole film director – somehow he’s still an asshole here but is weirdly endearing and I felt his interactions with Julia were highlights.
‘The Souvenir Part II’ is a smarter, better and more satisfying movie in almost every way to its predecessor, with Hogg showing how a creative force can come of age after the shattering experiences of the first film.
Directed By: Joanna Hogg
Starring: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton, Ariane Labed, Joe Alwyn, Harris Dickinson, Charlie Heaton and Richard Ayoade