Date TimeAugust 29, 2019
VoiceThe director confirms her status as a modern visionary with a deft, distinctive and deeply personal story of young love
The Souvenir review – sumptuous class study puts Joanna Hogg in the limelight
Joanna Hogg’s new movie is her most intensely personal yet – but this mysterious and beautiful film is not revelatory in any obvious way. I have seen it twice since writing about the premiere at Sundance in January, and the things about it that perplexed and baffled and bemused and entranced me then have done so more fiercely in the meantime. Yet its difficulties now feel not like flaws but rather sunspots of inspiration. The mother-daughter relationship is quietly superb and the musical interludes are wonderful: there is a glorious outing for Robert Wyatt’s haunting Shipbuilding and Willie Mabon’s Poison Ivy.
The Souvenir has already received plaudits as a breakthrough for this director – although I don’t think she needed a “breakthough”, given that each of her three previous films has been a triumphantly creative leap forward for those open-minded enough to see them. The rather lovely poster image of its two leads might induce audiences to expect something romantic and comfortingly mainstream. Wrong. The Souvenir is an artefact in the highest auteur register. Its absence of tonal readability is a challenge. But there is also a cerebrally fierce, slow-burn passion in its austere, unemphasised plainness.

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