Friday, October 8th, 2021

Queerguru’s Andrew Hebden at London Fllm Festival raves about THE SOUVENIR PART II

Joanna Hogg has done a very clever thing. And thankfully for her audience, she has made a superbly vivid and observant film that is so much more than merely clever. The excellent original The Souvenir gave no indication that it needed or even could have a sequel. Yet here is its symmetrical compliment.

For those who have not seen The Souvenir here is the link to our original review which we scored at a similarly high 8 out of 10 (http://c3f.ab6.myftpupload.com/the-souvenir-filmmakers-film-launches-a-swinton-dynasty.) Collectively these two films elevate each other into one classic piece of cinema. Linked in terms of the biography of the central character Julie (which in itself is semi-fictionally based on Hogg) the first movie captures her arrival at film school whilst in the midst of a relationship with a heroin addict. The Souvenir Part II continues on after his death from an overdose as Julie creates a film, The Souvenir, as a memorial to their relationship.  

The cleverness of the film is in its play within a play, movie within a movie, Russian doll structure. Besides the chronological link between films, there is an emphasis on the filmmaking process. Julie (Tilda Swinton’s talented daughter Honor Swinton Byrne) is coming to terms with her grief whilst grappling with her directing skills that, at first, are as blindly clumsy as she seemed to be romantically in her ill-fated relationship. As Julie was ignorant of so much in her relationship it became evidently impossible to communicate to her crew how to present the relationship on screen. 

Character and situation are the delightful heart of this film. The keen observance of stereotypes means they are rendered with microscopic reverence. The eccentrically pretentious directors, the self-consciously aware actors referring to themselves in the third person, and the petty insistence of the student crew aspiring towards professionalism breathe ardent authenticity. Yet at the same time, they source much of the films knowing humour from their edited version of humanity. 

Exceptional honours have to go to Rosalind the Mum (Tilda Swinton) and William the Dad (non-professional actor James Spencer Ashworth). Every utterance is a golden drop of parental platitudes. A script that every parent may have heard themselves repeat when their child is facing hardship is made inescapably poignant coming from their mouths. 

The pace is measured, even slow. But each step is perfectly placed. As we walk in Julie’s footsteps there is growth without unbelievable dramatic leaps. She evolves both as a woman and a filmmaker. And as she does, we are treated to a remarkable cinematic Rubik’s cube that shows the filmmaking process slotting its pieces into satisfying symmetry.



Queerguru Contributing Editor ANDREW HEBDEN is a MEDIA & CULTURAL STUDIES graduate spending his career between London, Beijing, and NYC as an expert in media and social trends. As part of the expanding minimalist FIRE movement, he recently returned to the UK and lives in Soho. He devotes as much time as possible to the movies, theatre, and the gym. His favorite thing is to try something (anything) new every day.

Posted by queerguru  at  10:34

Genres:  drama

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