‘The Souvenir’ written and directed by Joanna Hogg is an artsy pot boiler for which one needs to fasten a seat belt. The occasionally muffled dialogue forces you to lean forward and work to fathom its depths.
But depths there are; how someone can be duped into enabling a partner, how closely tied are immigration and class struggle, how much does a writer have to personally relate to his/her screenplay, and the age old question. ‘what is art?’.
Akin to walking down a corridor with a sudden recognition of your own reflection, I caught myself judging the main character’s foolish enabling, until the reflection shown its ugly head and said, ‘remember 2000 to 2006?’. I also thought our society’s unfortunate resurgence of hateful religions, anti-semitism and homophobes lends itself to sticking with a a dysfunctional partner due to an ‘any port in a storm’ mentality.
Hogg, along with the tremendous acting of Tilda Swinton and her daughter Honor Swinton Byrne, take a two hour time period to let these marinate with, at times, obscure cinematography and quiet lulls. Probably beloved to fine arts majors most, winning Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema should be the only sign needed to know rewards will be reaped from this meditative film.