A film student plans her movie during her most difficult love story.
There’s a romance that’s tested in “The Souvenir,” while a movie is in development. To put it bluntly, a young film student is in the process of making a movie, and she develops a relationship with a well-meaning but untrustworthy man.
The latest entry from writer/director Joanna Hogg (“Unrelated,” “Archipelago”) takes its time to balance the filmmaking and love drama, and while, at times, it gets a little confusing, you end up grasping the concept.
The young aspiring filmmaker is Julia (Honor Swinton-Byrne, daughter of Tilda Swindon), whose movie tells the story of a troubled young man with romantic feelings for his mother. Her message is for him to grasp with the difficulties of his life, and her spoil alert is that the mother dies. And she requires a background to match the mood and tone-Sunderland, England to be exact.
The movie is in a ways inspired by Jean-Honore Fragonard’s painting of “The Souvenir,” and there are two scenes in the movie where Julia sees the painting-one time in a museum-the other in a photograph she receives. She sees eye-to-eye with the painting, thus centralizing the theme of the movie.
Her love story begins when she meets Anthony (Tom Burke, “Only God Forgives”), a charming older man, who claims that his boring job is the reason he takes her to fancy restaurants and to Venice. He asks to crash at her place for work reasons-ones he can’t explain.
They begin a relationship, and are great in bed, and the state of her screenplay; but trouble brews when she finds out his real nature. He’s not evil, and he’s not a killer or a rapist, for the record. He’s a thief and heroin addict.
“The Souvenir” takes its time to get to know the filmmaker and her would-be love story, and it uses art, sex, and drama to paint the picture. It is standard at times in the storyline, but were still able to understand the characters’ situations, and their emotions.
Swinton-Byrne is a revelation as the main heroine in the ways she balances her life, and how she keeps her emotions in tack. Burke has a loud, but realistic scene when he freaks out in the girl’s apartment because of his addiction, and has blood spots on his shirt. And Tilda Swinton has a fine supporting role as the girl’s mother. Despite her asking her mother for money in regards to her film classes, they have a steady relationship.
Relationships can be complicated, depending on what problems the characters are having, and “The Souvenir” makes an honest point about that.