The Souvenir: Part II

The Souvenir: Part II ★★★★½

Less a sequel than the latter half of a complete whole, The Souvenir: Part II takes Julie’s sorrows to new emotional heights while retroactively elevating beats from the previous film. I feel such a kinship with this character. I’m approaching 30 myself, and as I reflect upon the past decade, it’s a haze of self-discovery, no-budget filmmaking, and agonizing attempts at finding love. My experiences haven’t been a precise 1:1 with hers, but these movies have sent me swirling through my own memories in ways both joyous and painful. Like her mother, Honor Swinton Byrne is adept at conveying one idea while performing its polar opposite, tugging the viewer along as she meticulously navigates the chaotic milieu of film school and the incessant egos of her colleagues. Richard Ayoade is especially fantastic in this one, alternately responsible for some of its most acerbically funny and most poignant moments. Patrick can be a bit of a caricature, intentionally fashioning an icon out of himself, but every artist possesses a bit of Patrick. The shadow of Anthony naturally looms large, influencing Julie’s decisions about her art and about her life, but nobody will be prepared for how thoroughly his taste in British cinema winds up informing Joanna Hogg’s daring, meta, mixed-media approach to the finale. Major life events come as breathlessly as they go. It’s all immaterial, especially when it becomes material.

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