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The Souvenir

Julie (played by Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton’s daughter) is a 25-year-old film school student who is making a film about a boy who is dying and has an unusual attachment to his mother. Julie’s mother (Tilda Swinton) pays the rent and provides money when needed. Julie meets Anthony (Tim Burke), a mysterious guy who has a job in the “foreign office” and who right away gets under your skin; there is something not right about him. There is a lot to admire in the film. The acting by Byrne and Burke is remarkable; Byrne plays Julie as a quiet woman in her first serious romance who slowly finds her voice, and Burke as the guy who is a seriously amazing example of “gaslighting” as he subtly (to her, and not so subtly to the objective observer) undercuts Julie’s confidence. The film is set in the ’80s, and the 80’s soundtrack that Julie admires set against his classical tastes shows a great use of music to distinguish the two characters. I also really liked the parallel stories – Julie finding her voice as a woman and as a filmmaker; it also is a great story that attests to the adage, “love is blind”. I just never really deeply connected with the characters. Thumbs up for a film whose story I really liked intellectually (it is one of the best films I have seen about the inner workings of what it means to be a filmmaker) but left me feeling felt emotionally. But overall, I liked the direction of the film and the points it was making. (2019; 4 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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