Joanna Hogg UK/USA, 2019 120 minutes M Sex scenes, drug use, nudity, offensive language
Joanna Hogg’s dream-like, visually splendid tale of first love stars Honor Swinton Byrne (in a breakout performance) alongside her mother, Tilda Swinton, and Tom Burke. It won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year. Based on elements from Hogg’s own life, The Souvenir centres around Julie (Swinton Byrne), a 1980s film student from a privileged background who wishes to make films depicting the harsh social realities of Thatcherite Britain. Into her life comes Anthony (Tom Burke), who’s older and charismatic and expresses serious interest in, and ideas about, the films Julie wishes to make. Following a chance meeting, the two embark on a tempestuous love affair. The dapper and sophisticated Anthony says he works for the Foreign Office, and hints at daring, secretive missions. While Julie’s mother (Swinton) and her friends express some apprehension, Julie remains devoted, borrowing increasingly large sums of money from her parents to hand over to Anthony. Hogg says: ‘Making the film, I’m allowing parts of my own biography to be reimagined and expanded upon and changed. I want it to become something else.’ The result is a film of great power and unforgettable imagery, perfectly capturing the social milieu, and all the euphoria of first love and its accompanying harsh realisations.
- Sydney Film Festival 2019.