A masterwork of self-introspection through the canvas of cinema, The Souvenir: Part II is a meta epic of delicate proportions that constantly folds into itself and reveals the murky waters that border fiction and the reality that inspires it, sometimes, like in this case, more directly than others.
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This is a story about the importance of making mistakes, of learning, of pulling yourself up and trying again – whether in love, sex, art or friendship. It’s a delirious ‘making of’ film: the making of an artist and the making of a life in all its messy glory.
As vulnerable as its predecessor and textured with the same velvet sense of becoming, “Part II” adds new layers of depth and distance to the looking glass of Hogg’s self-reflection.
The distinctive British filmmaker is at the height of her powers in this semiautobiographical work.
The Souvenir: Part II is a film to savour, visually and sensorily.
Though fully distinct in its thematic and aesthetic fixations, The Souvenir Part II abuts its predecessor to form one of the medium’s most intimate, expressive portraits of the artist as a young woman — a mirror tilted just enough away from the filmmaker that the audience, too, can catch itself in the glass.
This second part is lighter, more playful, growing in confidence along with its protagonist, in a terrific performance from Byrne. But it’s also full of gentle, cherished acts of memory . . . that build up powerful reminders of the past.
The two-part The Souvenir can be seen very much as one whole, and as such is one of the very best achievements in recent British cinema.
This rich and mysterious film is a real achievement.
Where Part I had a shimmering poignancy as a tragic love story, this is busy and dazzling: Hogg has never made a funnier piece of work or come to us with such fresh provocations.