Film Review: The Souvenir

Joanna Hogg is undoubtedly one of the most unusual and singular voices working in British cinema today. Her work resides in the world she knows. A world of privilege, art and wealth. Whilst this approach is undeniably refreshing, it has come in for criticism. However, her work to date, Unrelated, Archipelago and Exhibition, demonstrate an uncanny self-awareness and an impeccable use of tone. Her new film, The Souvenir, is her best yet.

It’s the 1980s and Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) is a budding filmmaker who, whilst studying at film school, is determined to make a film about a boy and his mother living in a decaying northern shipbuilding town. She meets a wealthy older man, Anthony (Tom Burke) and drifts into his world of private clubs and upmarket restaurants. As their relationship develops, Julie soon discovers that all that glitters is not gold.

The Souvenir is a remarkable lament on class, entitlement and the slow crumbling edifice of the former aristocracy. Set in an era where the focus is usually on the loss of traditional industries, Hogg instead trains her camera on old school privilege. Using her trademark visual arthouse signatures, we’re afforded a glimpse into an entirely alien world. The Souvenir is an assured and distinctly personal drama about perspective, direction and toxic relationships.

The Souvenir is in cinemas an On Demand from 30 August.  

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