The Souvenir: Part II
Joanna Hoggs’s Souvenir: Part II is the follow-up to her 2019 semi-autobiographical feature of the same name. Some of the main cast return for the second chapter – most notably Honor Swinton Byrne and her mother Tilda Swinton, who play Julie and her on-screen parent, respectively – but there are new faces too, such as Joe Alwyn of The Favourite and Charlie Heaton of Stranger Things.
The story picks up right where part one left off. Julie, a film student living in London, is grieving, following the sudden suicide of her boyfriend, Anthony. While the first picture surrounds the couple’s toxic and intense relationship as Julie is infatuated with this troubled heroin addict – who exploits her for money and housing, degrading her enthusiastic approach to filmmaking and art – Part II follows Julie as she tries to grieve and accept her loss whilst working on a graduation project centred around their romantic involvement. During the production, co-workers ask questions about the relationship and how they don’t understand the couple’s actions, forcing the protagonist to look back on it in a more objective way.
It’s not a usual occurrence for independent dramas to have sequels, thus having reservations about this one is natural. However, as the director has said herself, you can’t have one instalment without the other. Part II allows the audience to see Julie as her own character. The first chapter had a suffocating feel as it homed in on this extremely stifling relationship, and it mostly took place in her small flat; the continuation opens up the student’s world with many scenes set in her parents’ country house and on her film set. Viewers see Julie become her own woman and an artist, free of her concerns for Anthony and the feeling of worthlessness he forced upon her.
Part II features more experimental work with a dream-like sequence resembling a Greek mythological tale. Hogg showcases her expertise as not just a storyteller but a filmmaker, masterfully bringing this emotionally intelligent and powerful story to a close. Byrne also gets to show off more of her acting skills, as the core of the picture’s naturalistic feel. Julie’s character is so tangible, which is needed to enable the viewers to empathise, and the young actress carries this out with a meticulous approach.
The Souvenir Part II is a marvellous follow-up embellished with skilful performances and outstanding direction from Hogg.
The Souvenir: Part II is released in select cinemas on 4th February 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Souvenir: Part II here: