Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Joanna Hogg Directs a Dazzling Honor Swinton Byrne in ‘The Souvenir’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | October 2nd, 2019

'The Souvenir' screenshot

A carefully crafted and intensely observant fictionalization of writer-director Joanna Hogg’s experiences once upon a time in film school in the early 1980s, “The Souvenir” is essential viewing for devoted cinephiles. Semi-autobiography may be an appropriate descriptor for the movie, but “The Souvenir,” which collected the World Cinema Dramatic Prize at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, should not be confined to a lone category like memoir. Hogg’s wide embrace folds around the frequently considered ideas of the artist’s journey, but “The Souvenir” also explores the emotional maturation of a young woman in a difficult romantic relationship with a high-functioning addict.

Hogg’s onscreen proxy Julie is portrayed by Honor Swinton Byrne in her first featured role -- and it’s a memorable, breakout performance. Julie’s affluence, privilege, and comfort is represented in several ways but principally communicated in brief scenes in which she taps her mother Rosalind (Tilda Swinton, real life mom of Swinton Byrne and a longtime friend of the director) for cash infusions that more often than not fund older boyfriend Anthony’s (Tom Burke) habits as much as the movie gear, film stock, and other school-related expenses Julie needs to pursue her evolving moviemaking vision.

Hogg appreciates subtlety, and one of the great joys of “The Souvenir” is the way in which the viewer is invited to participate in the small intimacies experienced by Julie. The result is that we feel our way through the narrative alongside the protagonist, discovering the good and the not so good in concert with her. This technique of hiding all kinds of valuable information in plain sight -- but just a bit left of center or in the background -- can feel like the most empowering kind of storytelling for those comfortable with the nuance and ambiguity of an open-ended text.

The restraint with which Hogg conducts the proceedings may turn off viewers accustomed to the blunt, direct streamlining of plot beats in most films, but there’s no denying that the director’s orientation toward the discovery of transcendent moments within the quotidian aligns with Robert Bresson’s respect for quietude, stillness, and introspection. That said, “The Souvenir” breathes and behaves cinematically. It is far from just pictures of people talking. The spaces between the dialogue, when the violence of political strife or the attitudes of professors and fellow students may be inferred, draw us in.

As a particular kind of bildungsroman, “The Souvenir” is also supremely sensual. Hogg’s stylish sojourn to Venice is tactile in its eroticism, even as we know the toxic mismatch of Julie and Anthony will inevitably lead to one heartbreak or another. The filmmaker dramatizes concrete components of the heroine’s progress, especially when they come with a steep cost, and the result is that we stretch and grow along with Julie. Additionally, Hogg shot in sequence, with much improvisation, including but not limited to work on a carefully constructed apartment set. Cinematographer David Raedecker captured images on digital and motion picture stocks to get specific textures and grain. Admirers of “The Souvenir” may continue their celebrations. A sequel is currently in production. 

Recently in:

FARGO — Climate change has been known and ignored for half a century, but Fargo residents made their voices known Wednesday during a city organized Town Hall event, demanding an end to fossil fuels and for the city to declare a…

Culture

​Handmade Holiday

by Alicia Underlee Nelson

What do you buy the person who has everything? Nothing – you make something. From cocktail bitters to chainmaille, succulent gardens to personalized poetry, local experts can help you create something totally unique for everybody…

Wednesday, December 11, 7-8 p.m.Fargo Theatre, 314 N Broadway, FargoTwo short documentary films by the Fargo History Project tell a story of the long road to women’s suffrage in North Dakota and another of the significance of the…

For a number of years, Fargo and Grand Forks have ranked within the top tiers of “Drunkest city in America.” According to worldpopulationreview.com we came in fifth this year, and the other four cities were all in Wisconsin…

88,633 Reasons Not To Build A WallOur Great Leader (a title used by North Koreans for Kim) is demanding that Congress include $5 billion in the 2020 federal budget for the border wall which he promised his rabid constituents Mexico…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

I am a voracious reader of anything culinary and a subscriber to several culinary periodicals. I like to hang onto them as I find it hard to throw away these culinary nuggets of information with their adventures to distant lands. …

By Shannon Raeloudmouthrockreviews@gmail.comDropping tomorrow via Listenable Records, On The Rise, is a bluesy rock collection by the Spanish quintet Imperial Rise. With praises across Europe, we would like to add in a bit of…

Cinema

​Love on the Run

by Greg Carlson

The politics of race in contemporary America inform the text and subtext of “Queen & Slim,” a vivid feature debut from music video director Melina Matsoukas. Described so often in “The Player”-style shorthand as “Bonnie…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comFounded in 1991, Springboard for the Arts’ mission is “to cultivate vibrant communities by connecting artists with the skills, information, and services they need to make a living and a life.”…

By Michael Str!kemichaelstrike.solo@gmail.comComedy, dance, live music, and that classic wordplay and wit only Mel Brooks can deliver. This Friday, November 14th, Concordia College Theater premieres their production of Mel…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

Perched along the banks of the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela Rivers and tucked up into the surrounding hills, Pittsburgh’s 90 distinct neighborhoods are connected by more bridges than Venice. Commuters and travelers enjoy…

Wellness

Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

Last Word

Routine fatigue

by HPR Contributor

By Zach Nerpelzachnerpel@gmail.comWhat fugue was this which ferried me from Fall into our now and immediately miserable Winter? Where had I been this entire season? How much time had passed and what had I experienced? What had I…