The Souvenir: A Fascinating Cinematic Gesture [critique]

A masterful diptych around the violent beauty of a first love. And the emergence of a major actress: Honor Swinton-Byrne

The Souvenir constitutes the fourth feature by Joanna Hogg, who came to the cinema in 2007. And if this name speaks above all to sophisticated film buffs, this diptych appears as the ideal gateway to her cinema, a sort of culmination of her work coupled with a return to the sources, since largely inspired by her own life and her beginnings behind the camera, since she even revisits Caprice, his graduation short. We follow the first love affair experienced by a young woman in the arms of a man who is unstable and possibly mythomaniac but who knew how to put on her this look which allowed him for the first time to believe in her and to free himself from a loving but castrating family. The Souvenir recounts the power of the first racing heart then the abrupt end of this story and his violent mourning which passes through the prism of the film that it will inspire in him. All driven by an astonishing paradox. Fascinatingly precise in his frames and his writing, Hogg does not however rely on any script, reconstructing his film from day to day in a striking cinematographic gesture. She lets the spectator take hold of this story by deliberately omitting certain pieces of the puzzle that is playing out before her eyes. And yet we never pick up, magnetized by the one Hogg chose as the main interpreter: Honor Swinton-Byrne, girl in the city as on the screen of Tilda Swinton. It emanates from her a gentleness, a genius and an insane capacity to bring to life with a simple look or a seemingly banal gesture all the joy as well as all the pain in the world. (Very) great art.

By Joanna Hogg. With: Honor Swinton-Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton… Duration: 1h59 and 1h48. Released February 2, 2022

Leave a Reply