The Souvenir is a rich, sophisticated and entertaining film about destructive love, and it’s both a fascinating portrayal of Britain in the 80s and an impressionistic film about the artist’s vocation and finding one’s footing in life. This film was one of last year’s best-received ones, along with Parasite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Marriage Story.
The Souvenir takes place in London during the 1980s, where young student Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) is pursuing her dream of becoming a filmmaker. She befriends the slightly older, charismatic, chain-smoking man of the world Anthony (Tom Burke), who introduces her to his own world of high culture. A passionate but dangerous relationship starts evolving.
The film is an autobiographical piece of work, largely based on director Joanna Hogg’s own experiences. The title comes from an 18th-century painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard that her far older and more refined lover introduced to her. Further details, like the location and the interior of her apartment in London, as well as passages of dialogue based on old letters, were meticulously reconstructed for the film.