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As much as I enjoy the better-quality summer blockbusters, I also really appreciate good independent films in the summer as a welcome and refreshing alternative to all the franchise movies and explosions. With that in mind as well as this film's terrific reviews, I was hoping that "The Souvenir" would be an excellent film. Sadly, I was let down. While the film certainly isn't bad, it has enough flaws to make it seem a bit empty at times.
The film tells the story of a young film student (Honor Swinton Burke) who begins to fall in love. (I won't say anything else to avoid giving something away.) The film is impressive on a technical level, with strong cinematography and superb production design. Sounds are mixed well throughout the film's duration, and the film's understated editing is very well done. Unfortunately, the character development of the male lead is almost nonexistent, which really damages the movie as a whole. It's a very "cold" movie emotionally, which can work in some films where the characters' emotions are not on the front burner. But for a romantic drama that expects the viewer to care about its two leads, this stoic tone is both jarring and understatedly erratic. While Swinton Burke is fine in the lead role, and some of the short scenes discussing her interest in filmmaking are interesting enough, her performance is rather flat. Tilda Swinton is terrific (as always,) but she is very sadly wasted and given very minimal screen time. While the film's cinematography is often very good, it can also be repetitive. For example, just how many shots of the front of opening and closing elevator doors are in this movie? If you have to start thinking about that while watching the movie after the first several, then there are too many. I also believe the film would have been better if it had a score. I was really hoping to love this movie given how great the trailer and reviews from critics were, but I was left a bit disappointed. 6.5/10
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