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Joanna Hogg delivers ‘vastly superior sequel’ with The Souvenir Part II

Director Joanna Hogg helms The Souvenir Part II which stars Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton, Richard Ayoade, Harris Dickinson, Joe Alwyn and Charlie Heaton

Joanna Hogg delivers ‘vastly superior sequel’ with The Souvenir Part II

The Souvenir Part II

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Often the greatest art comes from great pain and Joanna Hogg’s follow-up to her 2019 semi-autobiographical drama The Souvenir more than proves this on multiple levels.

In The Souvenir Part II, young student filmmaker Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) is recovering from the death of her secretive boyfriend Anthony (Tom Burke) and is being cared for by her wealthy parents, including her doting mother (Tilda Swinton, Honor‘s real-life mother).

Eventually, Julie returns to film school and surprises her tutors by ditching her plans for a documentary about working-class people living in Sunderland to produce a semi-autobiographical film about her traumatic romance with Anthony.

Facing the need to self-finance and struggling against a wave of doubt and unresolved heartache, Julie strives to make the film she envisions and attempts to open herself up once more to passion in various ways.



Honor Swinton Byrne returns as Julie in The Souvenir Part II
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Image:

Joss Barratt/Picturehouse Entertainment/Courtesy of the BFI)




Capturing a similar naturalism and calm pace to the first Souvenir, Hogg here embraces the meta-textual and more stylistically rich techniques of filmmaking as Julie explores her own artistic prowess.

Vitally, Swinton Byrne is once again a thoroughly endearing and magnetic performer, offering new shades to a role she has clearly grown in and knows all too well.

Ably supporting her is mother Tilda as the steadfast and amusingly chirpy Rosalind, while Richard Ayoade returns as his amusing austere and occasionally pretentious and caustic director Patrick.

Welcome new additions this time around include an intense Charlie Heaton as an actor that Julie is drawn to, Harris Dickinson as another actor who proves to take on an important role in Julie’s film opposite the ever-welcome Ariane Labed, and Joe Alwyn as an editor who Julie hopes to get to know much better.



Director Joanna Hogg gets increasingly personal with this superior sequel
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Image:

Joss Barratt/Picturehouse Entertainment/Courtesy of the BFI)




Once again seamlessly capturing the Thatcher years of British but without the showiness of many period dramas, Hogg offers specificity and authenticity that few directors can and her grounding of all scenes with Julie’s personal journey and emotional feeling is so well observed.

Unlike its predecessor, the film is also unafraid to offer more narrative propulsion and thematic exploration whilst honouring what happened to Julie in the first outing.

Finally, with some more theatrical sequences and a particularly thoughtful narrative decision to end the film, Hogg adds a whole other layer to her portrait of an artist as a young woman.

Verdict

The Souvenir Part II is a vastly superior sequel film from Joanna Hogg that portrays an artist honing her craft, accepting loss and finding new desires.

*The Souvenir Part II was shown as part of the BFI London Film Festival 2021 and is released in UK cinemas on January 21, 2022.



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