Friday, November 19, 2021

The Souvenir Part II Review: A Great Ending For A Long And Uninteresting Journey

Release date: November 12, 2021
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed By: Joanna Hogg
Starring: Honor Swinton Byrne, Jaygann Ayeh, Richard Ayoade, Ariane Labed, James Spencer Ashworth, Harris Dickinson, Charlie Heaton, Joe Alwyn, and Tilda Swintons 

In the aftermath of her tumultuous relationship with a charismatic and manipulative older man, Julie begins to untangle her fraught love for him in making her graduation film, sorting fact from his elaborately constructed fiction. Joanna Hogg’s shimmering story of first love and a young woman’s formative years, The Souvenir Part II is a portrait of the artist that transcends the halting particulars of everyday life — a singular, alchemic mix of memoir and fantasy.

The Souvenir Part II will be an indie filmmakers type of movie, with an interesting take on storytelling that definitely melds the real and the imaginary.  It feels often like the film itself is playing out on screen in the interactions.  And as you get deeper into this endeavor those lines blur even more.  And despite the film often feeling like it is building towards the final film project that will never actually occur, when you see glimpses of it coming together it is an impressive endeavor.  

The problem, though, is that in between you have what feels like a lower budget indie film to work with.  The Souvenir Part II feels decidedly indie, with a strange aspect ratio and look that often feels like the film student project it is emulating.  The story is slow to develop, there are several plot threads that come in and out, and there are several over the top characters that we meet throughout this endeavor that feel like actors trying to pile it on.  And overall, this film just feels weird to be weird.  I appreciated a lot of what it did, but the film had very little drive.  The film has inconsistent delivery, a lack of interesting subject matter, and just an overall esoteric feel that did not appeal to me.  I couldn't tell if it was a drama, a comedy, or an avante garde project; often it felt like some of all.  It has an amazing payoff but the journey to get there is just not worth it.

The Souvenir Part II is an indie film through and through, with a strange setup and a film project look and feel with a great payoff that is just not worth the slow and confusing story.

Pass on it.

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The Souvenir Part II is in theaters and on November 12, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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