The Souvenir Image

The Souvenir

By Anthony Ray Bench | February 5, 2019

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.

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  1. George says:

    Agree with your review. Dull Dull Dull. Started checking my watch after 20 minutes. Couldnt believe how long it was padded out for. Cannot believe the critical acclaim. Self indulgent rubbish

  2. Elsa Johnson says:

    Got up and walked out. Should have done it sooner.

  3. Lynn says:

    I already lived thru this story . But I was smart enough to kick that stupid junkie out before he destroyed my life … he only destroyed my heart .

  4. E Kimball says:

    After reading Bench’s review, I find it hard to determine what warranted even 4.5/10. I personally gave it a zero and pretty much agree with the content of the review — and most of the replies as well. The Souvenir was the most boring film I’ve seen in years. I got a free ticket, so I can’t get my money back, but I’d sure like my two hours back.

  5. adrian edwards-smith says:

    I actually sat thru the whole film as if it had been a form of punishment by mummy for being naughty………
    Honestly these high brow film critics are so obsequious and scared shitless to just say it as it is. The rave reviews are so unwarranted.
    So here goes…….. Ladies and Gentlemen “The Souvenir” is a piece of pretentious crap promoted by Tilda Swinton to push her very drab daughter.
    Sorry. I found her, the kid, to be a second rate Keira Knightley.,,,,,,,, minus any sex appeal…….. but with that same whiney pouting British tweed and cashmere pretense that one finds in an Agatha Christie play.
    The Director Joanna Hogg in my opinion, has succeeded in creating a pile of steaming horse manure, ala Brando’s classic text in “Last Tango in Paris”
    For her to have the nerve to mention Powell/ Pressburger is a cinematic sin,,,,,,,,
    Joanna Hogg cannot concentrate. She flies from one theme, and set piece to another, and has zero imagination.
    She ain’t Michael Powell,,,,,,,, even if she donned red heels………….
    The film takes no risks, breaks no ground, and please NO there are hints of a sequel………… Grrrrrr,,,,,,,,,,, Set the dogs on Joanna Hogg please !!!!!
    I’ve never taken heroin before but after the film, if they were selling heroin next to the popcorn, I’d have tried it.
    My advice to Joanna Hogg…….. Open up a café in Chelsea, and accept checks as payment.
    My advice to Honor Swinton Byrne,,,,,,,,,, Be the waitress in the same café, but please, don’t try to follow mummy (Tilda) into the spotlight.
    You simply have not got that spark, no matter how much you may want it.
    But alas, we may see her try, and try, just like the daughter of Meryl Streep…….until she too realized that it was just not gonna happen.

  6. Bea says:

    I agree with so much of what you say. We left 1/2 way through — after she apologized to him for being pissed because he stole from her — I just couldn’t take it anymore. If it hadn’t been so painfully slow and choppy, I might have hung in there to see how it turned out (I found your review when hunting to see if I could find out how it ended. I guess I was interested enough to wonder what the hell happened.) Can’t seem to find a spoiler (care to help?) … but I’m so glad to see there’s a rumbling of people saying “what the fuck?” about the Rotten Tomatoes score. 😉

  7. Steven Wilburn says:

    Anthony, you nailed it. I’m a filmmaker myself and I get tired of when so called critics rant and rave about a film and when I see it I’m highly disappointed. 96 on Rotten Tomatoes – are you KIDDING me? I go to the movies to be entertained like most people. Not to try to figure out what some artsy filmmaker is trying to say in some unimaginative, boring, egotistical attempt at showing the difficulty of their life. There’s so many worthy stories and directors out there looking for funding but Scorcese gets this made!? Yo, Marty, if you want to E.P. a film that’s entertaining and will make money, give me a call.

  8. Susan b says:

    agreed and searched for another who despised the pace, the pretentious style of intimacy used plus the whispered dialogue made me so irritated! Thx !

  9. MKW says:

    The review is right on target! So are the above responses #1 and #3.

  10. Jane Newman says:

    After suffering through 2 hours of this lame tale, I totally agree with this review. AO Scott’s opinions have ruined too many movies for me. How do I find more of your reviews?

  11. G says:

    “I’m genuinely happy people enjoyed Joanna Hogg’s film even though I did not. It seems like it’s gaining an audience and I can respect that. This film was not my cup of tea, but you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Not everything has to be made to appease me.”

    I doubt your qualifying statement would be enough to appease Brie Larson, but respect for swimming against the current and speaking your mind.

  12. dramtra Coffin says:

    4.5 out of 10? How about a -1?

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