The Souvenir: Part II

The Souvenir: Part II ★★★★

The Souvenir: Part II. 2021. Directed by Joanna Hogg.

With some of the strongest talent in showbusiness, film school collides with heroin addiction and grief. The Souvenir: Part II (2021) is a triumph as a semi-autobiography. The first half of the film has the lingering suffocating death of Anthony (Tom Burke). However, with twelve producers including Martin Scorsese, Lizzie Francke, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, The Souvenir Part II elevates itself in the third act by adopting meta surrealism and expressionism. Honor Swinton Byrne truly shines in her graduate film as she confronts, grief, depression, and the maze of her relationship with Anthony to her subsequent recovery. She becomes a director in her own right as she grasps a camera and leaves Anthony’s baggage behind. 

Initially, I thought Hogg was just delivering the same depressing sets, location, and sub-par acting that was depicted in The Souvenir (2019). This is not the case. Part II has more introspection and focuses on metamorphosis. Moreover, the art direction, script, and direction tightens and the A-list talent suddenly has something to express and be proud. In addition, Hogg showcases what it is like to become an artist as a young female. In life, coming of age often has a price and Byrne shines in her meta performance as Julie overcoming the death of her beloved Anthony. As the ripples of time move forward in Hogg’s sequel, so does the quality of acting and symbolism.

I would be remiss to not speak of the power of Tilda Swinton’s performance as Rosalind (Julie’s mother) and the fact that she is Honor’s mother in real life. Tilda and Honor had more screen time in Part II and of course the indie goddess and multiple award winner gave a stunning performance. Julie accidentally breaks one of Rosalind’s pots. The symbolism of the broken shards form the transition point, in my opinion, in which the film makes a turn for the better. Julie acquires the necessary money to complete her film from her mother. She then tackles the uphill battle of directing, grief, therapy for grief, and matures into a dynamic film maker.

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