New from British director Joanna Hogg, known for her cerebral dissections of middle-class British life – Unrelated, Exhibition and Archipelago – comes this exquisite semi-autobiographical drama, hailed as her most accomplished film to date.
In 1980s London, against a backdrop of ascendant Thatcherism and IRA violence, Julie, a quietly ambitious film student (Honor Swinton Byrne), embarks on her first serious love affair with the mysterious Anthony (Tom Burke). She’s trying to develop a documentary project set in working-class Sunderland, a community at odds with her own moneyed background, and also based around a boy called Tony. Despite the concerns of her mother (Tilda Swinton) and friends, she slips deeper into a turbulent relationship with Anthony, finding it increasingly hard to discern fact from fiction.
Nostalgic, melancholy, specific and incredibly intimate, The Souvenir is shot and conceived in a way that feels like Hogg is taking you into her private confidence as she navigates the confusions of her younger self (or a version of it). It’s also a calling card for Swinton Byrne, who gives a truly star-making performance as Julie – an awkward, diffident, yet passionate young woman investigating love, class and her place in the world.
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