One of the narrative features everyone couldn’t stop buzzing about at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year was British writer-director Jonna Hogg’s “The Souvenir.” A cinematic memoir that finds the filmmaker reaching into and reflecting on her past, “The Souvenir” takes a rather traditional story of two mismatched lovers and their destructive relationship and fills it with such intimate details that the story beats feel shockingly new. The drama features two breakthrough performances by Honor Swinton Byrne (daughter of Tilda) and Tom Burke that are bound to go down as two of the year’s most memorable.
The official synopsis from A24 reads: “A shy but ambitious film student (Byrne) begins to find her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man (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.”
In his A review out of the Sundance Film Festival, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich praised “The Souvenir” as a “magnificent self-portrait of love, loss, and creative awakening.” “Equal parts reverie and requiem,” Ehlrich wrote, “‘The Souvenir’ reveals itself to be a diorama-esque dissection of that volatile time in your life when every molecule feels like it’s restlessly vibrating in place, and even a brief encounter with another person has the power to rearrange your basic chemistry.”
With critical acclaim buzzing out of Sundance, where it won the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema, Hogg will begin production on her sequel to “The Souvenir” last this year. The follow-up film will once again star Byrne in the lead role, but this time her romantic love interest will be played by none other than Robert Pattinson. A24 has already landed U.S. distribution rights to the sequel.
A24 will release “The Souvenir” in theaters May 17. Watch the first official trailer below.