January 24, 2022

SCREEN | 'The Souvenir Part II' Revisits A Bad Romance

"Did you avoid the temptation to be obvious?"
Honor Swinton Byrne Joanna Hogg | The Souvenir Part II
A24 / LevelFilm
British filmmaker Joanna Hogg's unlikely follow-up to her early '80s London-set, semi-autobiographical bad romance, 2019's The Souvenir, reimagines what a film sequel can be dramatically. The Souvenir Part II sees the still effervescent Honor Swinton Byrne's affluent film student Julie recovering emotionally from the sudden death of her heroin-addicted first love, Anthony (Tom Burke), from an unexpected overdose in Part I.

Byrne's mother Tilda Swinton once again provides a comforting counterpart to her real-life progeny. A shell-shocked Julie is in the thick of making her student film without the support of her instructors after abandoning her original thesis project in favour of authentically exploring her troubled relationship on screen. Part II deals directly with the aftermath of Anthony's passing in interesting dramatic ways.

Comedian Richard Ayoade reprises his playfully fun role as the film's unabashed truth sayer. We see scenes restaged featuring actors playing actors recreating parts from the first film with Harris Dickinson portraying a version of Anthony as our protagonist struggles to direct or make sense of her own life as a piece of meta-fiction.

Hogg's full circle memoir of a sequel feels much looser yet still self-contemplative in tone as Julie processes her loss through art. The Souvenir Part II is a cinematic act of maturation in its depiction of what would have happened had the filmmaker been allowed to make her film the way she wanted at a much younger, more formative age.

The Souvenir Part II screened at the Rio Theatre.

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