I’ve never had an experience quite like the one I had when I watched writer and director Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir. I watched the film with an audience who scoffed, checked their Apple Watches constantly during its sizeable runtime, whispered negative sentiments, and said phrases like “Out of all of the films that could have been made, why did it have to be this one?”
I thought we were all in agreement with this movie, and then I go online to find out that critics are heralding it as being a bold, beautifully pro-feminist film about a woman’s struggle to navigate the creation of art while experiencing a romance heading down the course of devastation. I say this as a heterosexual male who probably should keep his mouth shut, but aside from the fact that the film is written, directed, and stars a female, I don’t see this film as the resounding feminist statement a lot of my fellow critics are seeing it as. To me, the film is boring, lifeless, too dreary for its own good, and has really annoying quirks and habits that just irritate me.
The love interest, Anthony (played by Tom Burke), is an insufferably catty and arrogant asshole with a heroin addiction that talks down to the film’s protagonist Julie (played by Tilda Swinton’s daughter Honor Swinton Byrne). He invalidates her opinions constantly, makes her question herself, steals from her and gets defensive when she confronts him, and he is basically the poster boy for the concept of gas lighting. Every time the two appeared on screen I struggled to find any spark of chemistry, they were both just painfully boring and their dialogue was pretentious and whispered. I’d rather die than hang out with people like that for more than an hour.