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The Crack Magazine

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The Souvenir: Part II

Director: Joanna Hogg

Stars: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton, Richard Ayoade, Ariane Labed, James Spencer Ashworth, Joe Alwyn

The second part of writer-director Joanna Hogg’s cinematic bildungsroman picks up where the last one left off. Film student Julie (Swinton Byrne), still numbed after the death of her upper-class junkie boyfriend, Anthony, is staying with her upper-middle class parents (Ashworth and Byrne’s real-life mum, Swinton) in Norfolk. Returning to film school, she abandons her attempt to make a social realist drama set in Sunderland, in order to explore something closer to home, drawing on her feelings of loss. Her lecturers, however, are as unenthusiastic about this as they were about her former project. She struggles during the actors’ workshops, and has trouble asserting her authority during filming, before a kindly editor Max (Alwyn) steps in to offer guidance. Initially the picture suffers from the absence of Tom Burke’s enigmatic Anthony character, with Julie’s slightly wan manner and rarefied background making a way in to the drama a little more challenging. The recreation of 80s boho London, in all its elegant shabbiness, is beautifully realised though, and bolstered by a choice selection of alternative tunes. A scene-stealing Richard Ayoade reprises and expands on his role as the catty, imperious, and frustratingly successful director, Patrick, and the film takes audaciously stylistic and meta flight as Julie realizes her vision in a reality-blurring closing sequence.