The Souvenir trailer

A relationship is pushed to the limits in Joanna Hogg‘s fascinating drama The SouvenirHonor Swinton Byrne (daughter of Tilda Swinton) turns in a revelatory performance as a film student dealing with her unreliable boyfriend (Tom Burke) in the 1980s. This was one of the best films I saw at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but it’s also a film that’s not going to be for everyone. Watch The Souvenir trailer below.

The Souvenir Trailer

This trailer is fast, dramatic, and exciting. It almost makes Joanna Hogg’s new movie look like a thriller. But…that’s not what this movie is. Instead, The Souvenir is a deliberately paced drama that unfolds over a period of time with no real urgency. In other words, it’s slow. But that’s not a bad things. Slow movies can often be quite wonderful, if the filmmaking and performances are both up to snuff. Which they certainly are here. Honor Swinton Byrne is remarkable as the lead, and Tom Burke is equally great as her troubled boyfriend. Here’s the synopsis:

A shy but ambitious film student (Honor Swinton Byrne) begins to find her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man (Tom Burke). She defies her protective mother (Tilda Swinton) and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship that comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams.

When I saw The Souvenir at Sundance, I was transfixed. But the rest of the audience didn’t share my enthusiasm – I saw several people walk out, apparently fed-up with the movie’s languid pacing. But I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. As I wrote in my review:

Casual audiences will likely reject The Souvenir. Some cinephiles may even grow impatient with the day-by-day approach on display here. But the more of yourself you give to the film, the more you’ll get in return. By the time the credits roll, you’ll have felt as if you’ve spent an entire year with living, breathing people, not characters. The end result is stunning.

Despite those walkouts I mentioned, Sundance still awarded The Souvenir the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. In addition to that, filmmaker Joanna Hogg is already planning a sequel to the film, which will also be distributed by A24. A sequel planned before the first film has even come out? Eat your heart out, Marvel Cinematic Universe!

The Souvenir opens in theaters May 17, 2019.

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