The Souvenir

Poster for The Souvenir

Deeply personable and relatable, the acclaimed new drama from director Joanna Hogg (The Exhibition, Archipelago) is a semi-autobiographical account of a dysfunc­tional relationship between a young, ambitious film student and an older, smooth-talking man, set in 1980s west London. The film won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at Sundance in early 2019.

Julie (newcomer Honor Swinton Byrne) is finding her place as an artist, trying to shed her sheltered and privileged upbringing and immerse herself in the real world for the sake of her art. Her journey is derailed by Anthony (Tom Burke; The Invisible Woman, Chéri), whose charm is equal to his depravity but whom she cannot help but love—much to the dismay of her mother (played by Swinton Byrne’s real-life mother, Tilda Swinton; A Bigger Splash, The Grand Budapest Hotel, I Am Love) and her friends. The entanglement threatens to demolish Julie’s dream of becoming a filmmaker.

Hogg sincerely captures the intensity and naiveté of a first adult love. The Souvenir is at once a period piece depicting a modern rela­tionship long before the era of smartphones and social media, and a time capsule of our collective bad decisions and tormented rela­tionships. A sequel is in the works, promising that life after a bad romance can continue.

“If The Souvenir seems to move assuredly to its own unconventional rhythms, it’s because Hogg isn’t telling a straightforward story; she’s showing us, piecemeal, how an artist’s sensibility comes into being.” (Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times)

“Achingly well-observed in its study of a young artist inspired, derailed and finally strengthened by a toxic relationship, it is at once the coming-of-age story of many women and a specific creative manifesto for one of modern British cinema’s most singular writer-directors.” (Guy Lodge, Variety)

“This portrait of the artist as a young film-maker will certainly stand the test of time.” (Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International)