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  • Writer's pictureStrictly Films

The Souvenir Part 2; Grade: C+

The Souvenir Part 2 continues on the story of a film student named Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne), whom is grieving over the lost of her boyfriend whom dealt with a drug addiction problems. As Julie grieves over her lost, Julie is at the end of her schooling as she prepares for her graduation film project. The school is unwilling to cover the funds of her project, due to the fact they don’t approve of the film she wants to make. Julie however gets the funds from her mother Rosalind (Tilda Swinton), as she goes forward to making the film she wants to make for graduation. The film Julie wants to make is heavily inspired by Julie’s past relationship, as in a way not only is she making an important project for film school, but is also handling her own grieving process as well.

The Souvenir Part 2 so happens to be A24’s first sequel… I’m surprised like everyone else as really?! This is the film A24 wanted to be the first to have a 2nd film?! Don’t get me wrong: The Souvenir is a fairly decent film, but I think we all much prefer a sequel from Lady Bird or Eighth Grade… Films worth continuing on, as we can explore those worlds more. Do I feel The Souvenir needed a sequel?! Eh, not really I’m actually surprised it did to be honest. Fortunately my local theater was showing this film, I know a lot of places aren’t currently viewing this one so I was lucky to partake in another A24 film seen in theaters.

The Souvenir Part 2 is honestly almost how I felt about the first film: There are some things I like about it, as for the overall experience as far narrative speaking… A bit underwhelmed. With The Souvenir Part 2 I will say cinematography wise this was a well shot film, it’s a beautiful looking film as it has a very authentic feel to it that has an old school style to it. The colors and textures really speaks volumes as the film maker is into older style films, so it does look lovely. The only thing I would criticize for is aspect ratio changes… Not sure why the sudden changes is all.

Within the story of The Souvenir Part 2, there are parts of the story I was fairly interested in and of course I was enjoying the deeper meaning in such scenes followed. The film has me quite interested in the film making process whether it be Julie working on her own film or working on other sets. It gives you an in depth look on how films are made and what sets look like on a background view, so I was cool with watching this as it was all interesting.

The deeper meaning scenes more has to do with Julie grieving and what goes on in ones mind while going through losing a significant other. There’s a couple intriguing moments where Julie asks some bold personal questions about her past lover with her family, the lovers family, his dealer, or her therapist. When one is grieving: The mind encounters many thoughts, thoughts in which you have many questions and even questions you don’t normally asks that are truly personal. So in a way the way the film communicates just how the mind tends to run on many questions while grieving, it’s orchestrated quite well as some of these scenes would actually become of interest for me.

There’s a couple deeper meaning scenes that comes to mind, whether it be Julie sleeping with someone she hardly knows and works with or Julie’s film in the third act. Julie locks eyes with someone she works with by the name of Jim (Charlie Heaton), Jim I believe is an actor or works in some part of the film crew?! Anyhow it’s obvious Jim and Julie aren’t really that close, as you can tell in Julie’s eyes she’s attracted to him. Jim later goes over to Julie’s house, they don’t say any words as they follow by making out. While making out Julie says she’s on her period, as Jim says he doesn’t mind as they proceed to having sex. The deeper meaning behind this scene is when it comes to having sex aftermath of your past lover: You always feel a great amount of shame, like your betraying them in some form. It’s a feeling of shame in which you feel completely disgusted with yourself, that can be equivalent to having sex with someone on their period… It’s a rather nasty scene, I mean there is blood smeared on her lips, I almost puked. However it’s honestly the best constructed scene as far as creating a deep metaphor, so I gotta say it was the most impressive scene in the entire film.

Julie’s film feels equivalent to what is going on with Julie’s mind. There’s a whole a lot of darkness due to grieving, voices inside her head mainly her past lovers’ voice, and a video camera and places that reminiscent to past films. The way it’s constructed it feels like Julie is heavily involved with still feeling very down by her lost, however her passion for film is not slowing down as it’s currently getting stronger and stronger, as she feels more passionate and dedicated than ever before. I will say that whole sequence wasn’t that great, it does feel a bit too artsy fartsy as it sometimes gets lost in translation, however some elements I understood by what it meant and all so it was fine.

Like Julie’s film: The Souvenir Part 2 can also relate as this film can sometimes be lost in translation. There are times in which I was thoroughly engaged with the narrative, however there are times where scenes would just abruptly stop, head towards directions in which doesn’t really have no impact on the story whatsoever, or not come to a resolution to the whole point of Julie’s grieving process. Sometimes scenes would start and go forward, yet at one point it just stops as your questioning why does that scene not go any further to where there is a conclusion made?! There are many moments like this and it can be very irritating some. There are some sequences and conversations where it didn’t really do much relating to the narrative, as you question why are these scenes there to begin with?!

I feel with the grieving process, I felt there was going to be a point where Julie understands considering her therapist or what her fellow colleagues has to say on the characters she’s written in her film that is completely related to her past relationship, that she would come to a full understanding just how this relationship was unhealthy?! That Julie would come to realize that this man though still a tragedy and all as I get she does love him, however Julie will then come to finally realize that the way she felt about him and the way their relationship was developed would make make her feel just how she thought all wrong about the entire thing. Like nobody except Julie believes she was ever involved in a loving relationship with a man whom had serious issues and had a poor attitude, so Julie shouldn’t be feeling the way she is or come to realize she needs to move on. It felt like the film couldn’t figure out how to come to a resolution regarding that matter, so they just ditched it completely as it just randomly ends… It’s a rather weird conclusion as I really don’t understand what was I suppose to get out of this?! Sure it has some deep moments, but as a whole narrative you’re just left wondering was there even a point at all?! It doesn’t feel complete at all, nothing feels justified at all.

I feel The Souvenir in comparison with The Souvenir Part 2 is slightly better, both do feel slow as a moving narrative, however the first film felt much completed than this second film… Which is disappointing because this second film had potential to be better than the first, I just can’t get behind it because it doesn’t feel whole as well as there are problems that go along with it.

Overall, The Souvenir Part 2 was fine. If you like the first film then sure go ahead and see it, if you never seen the first nor didn’t care for the first… I’d skip this one. -Mitch Smietana

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