Joanna Hogg’s autobiographical drama The Souvenir is cagey in a way that I oughtn’t discuss too directly here. The film contains one of the most shocking revelations in recent movies; about halfway through, Hogg exposes something about the principal characters that forces you to reevaluate nearly everything she’s shown you about them up until then. It’s an effective strategy that’s so much more than a narrative trick. The revelation doesn’t alter the film’s main themes (innocence, coming of age, emotional dependency), but rather deepens them and takes them in a darker direction. It also dovetails beautifully with Hogg’s visual aesthetic, which is built around an exquisite sense of off-screen space. The British writer-director has long cited French filmmaker Robert Bresson as a major influence, and like him, she knows how to play on her viewers’ imaginations through the careful selection of what she does and doesn’t present. CONTINUE READING