In Brief: Remember. I see movies so you don’t have to. Nothing I’ve seen lately makes that statement truer than The Souvenir.
A lot of critics love this one. Much of why it’s getting high marks is the performance of Honor Swinton Byrne. I agree. She does this wonderful, not quite secure, finding-my-way-in-the-world performance that is engaging and — in a way — endearing.
The movie is not so endearing and it is at this point that I must point out that I see films like The Souvenir so you don’t have to.
The worst part about this dud is that there’s going to be a sequel. Really. A movie this — to put it delicately — boring, gets a sequel? It’s about a woman and a n’er-do-well boyfriend and not much more. Maybe casting a more interesting actor as the boyfriend will help the next film. The new boyfriend will be played by Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame.
In this one the boyfriend is done by Tom Burke.
Pattinson is doing a pretty good job of distancing himself from Twilight series hero Edward. Anything — even this, I guess — beats playing an awful pedophile vampire. What? A pedophile? Yes. Edward is a pedophile.
That’s a debate for another time as is the casting of Pattinson in the sequel to a film that ought not to have been green-lighted in the first place.
Byrne is Julie. She’s a film student with a more-or-less promising future. I say that assuming once out of school and in the business she wouldn’t push producers to do a movie as bad as this one. After saying that, and looking at Byrne I’m forced to admit that she’s in a movie as bad as this one so perhaps to say she has a bright future is misleading.
Julie falls in love with Anthony. He’s done by Burke who isn’t distancing himself from any role at the present time but may want to eventually distance himself from this one. Anthony is a loser-user. He’s bright, articulate and just mysterious enough to intrigue poor gullible Julie.
Oh, and he’s an addict.
Julie is completely in love, totally taken with the guy and doesn’t care. Her mother — played by real-life mom Tilda Swinton — trusts her daughter, doesn’t know about the addiction and blah, blah, blah.
By the way, by this point in the movie I’m watch-checking. I may have even started before she meets Anthony which is a ways into the first act.
The Souvenir — and I’m not really sure what souvenir or why it’s important as a title — is a small indy film that is terrible from the outset. Writer/director Joanna Hogg hasn’t done anything you’ve ever heard of and if the sequel actually comes about, won’t likely do anything in the near future that you’ve heard of either.
I don’t recommend this one at all. All that’s positive is the performance of Byrne. She’s very good but all good movie characters have three-dimensions. Hers doesn’t even manage two. Hogg’s other characters suffer the same fate.
When I joked about watch checking earlier, I wasn’t kidding. This film is very slow. At one point I checked my watch thinking the film was at least half over. Only 30-minutes of its nearly two-hours had passed.
Director: Joanna Hogg
Stars: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton, Tom Burke
A bright young star gets lost in this who cares indy flick. Friday Flicks with Gary says this is a watch-checker from mid-opening reel to the end. Give it a 1 on my 0 to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.