2019 Film Reviews – 54: The Souvenir [dir. Joanna Hogg; 2019]

The stars aligned when Joanna Hogg made Archipelago: her 2010 examination of a middle class family’s oh-so-politely angst-fuelled holiday on the Scilly Isles. With a deceptively simple, unforced style, she allowed her characters to reveal themselves in slow, carefully-charted steps, never over-emphasising any particular incidents or slipping into navel-gazing. Sadly, I can’t say the same is true of The Souvenir, although I gather many critics have been very taken with it. Yes, its central performances are superb — and inflected with that charming, only-just-expressed-quirkiness that seems to be Hogg’s trademark. And its story of a young woman navigating an increasingly troubling relationship isn’t without interest. But where Archipelago came across as entirely guileless, The Souvenir appears wilfully opaque and ponderous, placing style over substance in an attempt to convince the audience of its importance. Not a keeper.

Dariush

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