The Souvenir (2019) Poster


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Longest two hours of my life
avasikhye15 June 2019
I was so genuinely bored while watching this movie that I found myself checking the time on my phone constantly throughout. The movie tries to give you a taste of the everyday life of a young woman in film school who is juggling her work and older boyfriend who happens to be an addict, however it is unbearably dreary and dull. The main character is boring and has no defining personality other than being a pushover film student, and her catering to her manipulative boyfriend does not encourage any sympathy. This movie is basically a vignette of nothing happening.
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Self-Indulgent Garbage
robmar-7490910 June 2019
I had high hopes based on capsule reviews I read, but this is an awful film. Why should anyone care about a self-destructive junkie who has had every advantage in his life and a fool who is a hopelessly romantic enabler? The one redeeming feature is that the cinematography is good. But it doesn't help the story. I assume it is somewhat autobiographical. How sad. It is absolutely dreadful!
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Hey Why Don't You Come Over & Watch Our Vacation Slides
deager18 June 2019
Let me get this out of the way first - just because Tom Burke, Honor Swinton Byrne & Tilda Swinton do a excellent job (the reason for a 5 & not a 3) in this movie (even though Tilda Swinton is little used) doesn't mean that its great. The cinematography is good (though a bit washed out, but that could be on purpose based on the total lack of tension in this movie, so why have anything but pastel hues?); the direction I found to very good (even though Joanna Hogg, working from her own script) loves wide framing that seems to collapse on close encounters. The script though is just a lot of talking, talking, talking that seems to be leading us nowhere. Scene after scene of conversation that is all very nice but has little purpose. The only person who has anything interesting or useful is Anthony (Tom Burke). Julie (Honor Swinton Burke) seems to be so unaware that it gets very tedious watching her sleepwalk through this mess. (I have yet to understand the title "The Souvenir" as it relates to the story. I give guesses but the might be spoilers) This movie is like being with friends & having a nice evening (The reviews &Trailers for this movie) and then just as you open the second bottle of wine they stand up and say now let's go to the den so we can show you the slides of our vacation to the Kansas & Nebraska Prairie! (The movie starts!) (No offense to the great states of Kansas & Nebraska, but you are flat!). This movie builds no tension between its characters, it does nothing but shows a day in the life of a slick, maneuvering man & a woman who has no sense of the world around her & is a prime enabler. Is it about her blind love for him. Is it about his manipulation of her. Is it about her lack of knowledge of...of...well basically everything. I kept hoping this movie would do something, would go somewhere, would show us something that we could care about (especially regarding Julie) but it never did, it just kept wandering and wandering to the expected conclusion with a closing shot (reminiscent of the final shot on The Searchers, although I am sure it was not on purpose). As you read all the glowing reviews about the acting, etc. I would say 2 things - 1. All that great acting, cinematography, even directing doesn't mean squat without a script that means something and 2. They said that the English Patient was a great movie too!
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OK, dysfunctional relationships are complex and negative - WE GET IT!!
icangetthis25 February 2020
I had high hopes for this film, partially because T. Swindon was involved.

What a disappointment.

I appreciate the idea that the actors are improvising a great deal, and because of that it creates very 'real/authentic' type interactions. That's about the only positive thing I can find to say about this film.

It just goes on and on.

It's called 'editing' - give it a try! You could easily just delete the majority of the scenes from this film without having much effect on it's affect, intensity or appeal.

I realize that it's based on the director's past, but come on - just because it's important to you, doesn't mean that anyone else will benefit from seeing this portrayed on film. In my opinion, it isn't exceptional or very original, or entertaining, or important in any way.

I have no idea who the director feels will benefit from (or enjoy watching) this film. I'm stumped.

Sadly, I have to be honest - it's one of the least impactful or interesting films I've ever seen.
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Obvious and inscrutable
nesdon-231 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This film seems to be trying to turn its back on every narrative tradition. It shows us so much, and lingers so long on so many shots and scenes that are utterly unilluminating of any plot or character, and leaves out almost every detail that might help us contextualize what is going on or who these people are.

I love Malick, and really appreciate the heuristic style he pioneered. I'm glad when directors don't point at everything and instead let an audience just have an experience. But I, at least, need more than was offered here, where the arcs of all the characters seeming punctuated and unmotivated, and the mise-en-scene mostly arbitrary.

I didn't find the cinematography gorgeous at all, it seemed just like whatever was there, often flat and muddy, only occasionally catching a nice bit of light.

Maybe a little spoiler here (I guess?) but the last shot reprives a repeating shot, held painfully long, that I guess was intended as chapter markings, reminiscent of the brilliant wide shots that broke up Breaking The Waves, but which seemed completely empty of any meaning, even after that final reprise.

Without 2 Swintons, this film would never have gotten a theatrical release.
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Boring and pointless
sgd1208-743-57269225 May 2019
Hard to imagine that they are making a part 2. I couldn't even get through part 1.
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I had to "solve" this film, but it was worth it.
Gilly-1324 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Like many, I was bored and confused after viewing "The Souvenir", but I had recently watched and liked Joanna Hogg's "Unrelated" (2007), so I gave her the benefit of the doubt and thought it over. Like some other reviewers, something came to me the next day. I'm not a "feeling" kind of guy, so I have to work to appreciate her method of getting across an emotional complex and the way she will use the whole film to lead to a pinpoint, deep-drill moment of emotional elucidation. In "The Souvenir", I came to think she was portraying Julie as a sort of emotional vampire, vicariously using the troubled life of her lover, Anthony, to fill in the blanks of her previously vapid, upper-middle-class existence--borrowing some misery to give her enough empathy to be able to relate to less fortunate beings in order to fulfill her artistic ambition to be a filmmaker. The hints are there: her frustrated attempt at a working-class documentary; the advice from more than one source, to work from her own experience--the thing she lacks; her insincere credulity at finding needlemarks on Anthony's arm (you were right, nobody is THAT naive), and again when her flat is ransacked; her blind eye to where he goes with the money he borrows from her--an employee of the British foreign office borrowing constantly from a no-income film student. It occurred to me that this was the reason Joanna Hogg gave Honor Swynton Byrne her journals and materials from that time instead of a script in order to keep the actress as naive and unaware of her own motives as Hogg, herself, must have been at that age in this semi-autobiographical study. Then there was the extended discussion of the murder scene in "Psycho". The iconic portrayal of a brutal stabbing without any depiction of the actual physical violence. Julie says little, but has the last word in the discussion, (from memory) "You don't see the actual killing, but you see the end result." Congruently, you don't see Anthony's death, but the end results: the news of his overdose in the bathroom of an art gallery and the lack of remorse on Julie's part, contrasted with the excellent expression of grief by Tilda Swynton, the enormously talented mother of the character, as well as the actress,. And then the solution came to me when I rememberd the "Joanna Hogg moment"--that magnificent shot where Swynton Byrne turns her concentration from directing a film--the attainment of her film student goal--and glares impassively, directly, and most un-naively into Joanna Hogg's camera. Now, we all knew that was meant to be very cinematically significant, but I honestly didn't understand the significance until I solved the rest of the movie--that final, unblinking glare at the audience was Julie saying, "Yeah, I'm an upper class brat, and I got what I wanted. TFB if my junkie boyfriend died." And that realization with the memory of the defiant glare from her pallid, emotionless face made my blood run cold just as my mail carrier plucked the DVD from my mailbox the next day. I won't watch it again, but I recommend that the bored and confused give it some reconsideration.
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expected more
herbie-wall8 June 2019
I wanted to leave early on but stuck it out thinking something would happen soon. The performances were good, but the story was disjointed. What were the reviewers using at Sundance to give it an award?
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Disappointing and over-rated
proud_luddite23 July 2019
Based on a true story: in the 1980s, Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) is a young British woman from a wealthy family and attending film school. She hooks up with Anthony (Tom Burke) who gradually takes advantage of her while trying to hide his serious personality flaws and habits.

Swinton Byrne does not, in any way, give a bad performance; in fact, it is rather good. But she lacks the depth and subtlety required to carry the main role in a two-hour movie. Adding to the trouble is Burke whose Tom is as bland as kale and as common as a condo construction project in downtown Toronto. This character is so lacking in charisma and charm that the film becomes an unintentional mystery as the viewer is left to wonder what Julie could possibly see in him with or without his shortcomings.

A sad irony is a scene in the film in which a film teacher explains that "Psycho" was a success as most scenes were normal, thus making its abnormal, frightening scenes stand out more. If only writer/director Joanna Hogg had followed the advice that she had written for one of her secondary characters. While the narrative of "The Souvenir" is consistent, it does not have any scene that stands out, making it long and dull.

A saving grace was the presence of Tilda Swinton (Swinton Byrne's real-life mother) portraying Julie's mother - emphasis on the word 'presence' which was missing in the primary performances. The film would have benefited with more scenes that included Swinton Senior.

"The Souvenir" is hyper-praised in the most baffling of ways by most critics. One of the praises is that it's based on a true story. Well, there are billions of true stories that don't make good films. Sadly, "The Souvenir" is one of them. - dbamateurcritic
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Key element missing - chemistry
jmcmurrah19 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
People fall in love with damaged people all the time, and we don't necessarily understand why, but in the artifice of film, you need to help the audience understand why, no matter how slightly. If there had been one tiny detail to indicate what drew the heroine to Anthony, I could have lost myself in this film. But it was never expressed or indicated. He expressed no charm, no love, no attraction to her, no humour, and a passing interest in her studies. I wasn't sure they were in a relationship at all until - bam - she's worshipfully apologizing for his misdoings. I wanted very much to enjoy it. There were strong performances all around. Definitely wouldn't recommend this.
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I left
maestroguitaro11 June 2019
This was the first time in my life (I'm over 50) that I left a movie. It was boring clips of boring people with boring dialogue and no connections to anything. I didn't care at all about the characters. I was shocked by how bad this movie was, and that someone thought it was worth sending out into the world.
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emprof5 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This was one of the most boring movies I have ever seen. I usually love independent foreign films but not this one. It was painful to see a lovely young woman endure a dependent, abusive relationship with a drug addict. Moreover, I had difficulty understanding the dialog. Usually I'm fine with hearing the dialog in British films, but not this one.
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Pretentious tedium
benryan42319 May 2019
The only thing engaging about this film was engaging with the droves of people in the lobby who left it early in disgust. The sheer level of pretentiousness of a film that bent over backward to be evasive by starting every single scene in medias res. In the end, a film with the barest bones of a plot expects you to be so engaged by the sheer style of the film that your only conclusion must be that you're watching a work of art. Instead what you're watching is the characters' backs, literally and figuratively. Quite honestly one of the worst cinematic experiences of my life.
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Slow and boring.
carsondlx16 June 2019
First I'm an Indie guy. I usually love this sort of movie. Second am pretty good at sussing out interesting films, or at least films I might like from the variety of reviews available.

And have now seen two of the slowest, most pointless, pretentious and boring movies back to back. If "long day's journey into night' was like a fifties European existentialist art film on quasudes, the Souvenir was like Long day's journey slowed down to 1/4speed. Nothing happened but it happened very slowly. I think the script writer hit it perfectly in the beginning of the movie in some advice to the young film student protagonist. No, don't make it like real life. Real life is far too slow and without event. You have to cut and paste and choose which pieces to leave in and which pieces to not bother with or you end up with something totally boring. Yet they all went on to make this film which had realistic characters who basically did nothing interesting at any point.

How both this and Long Day's Journey earned such effusive praise from critics of all stripes is beyond me. Maybe existentialism is making a comeback as a response to the age of Trump. Who knows.
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Is this supposed to be satire?
nehpetstephen10 June 2019
My husband and I drove twenty miles to see this movie, and we were excited to see Tilda Swinton in what was currently ranked as the second-highest-rated movie of 2019 on Metacritic. We had noticed that the user reviews on RottenTomatoes, Metacritic, and Google were extremely low--completely at odds with the glowing critics' reviews--but I convinced him that it was probably a result of some 4chan or Reddit campaign--i.e., a bunch of misogynist snowflakes freaking out over a movie directed by a woman and launching anti-feminist screeds against a movie they hadn't even seen. Because I think that may in fact be happening, I feel the need to attest here that I myself am not an anti-feminist Reddit lunatic with an ax to grind. I feel the need to also insist that I am not an impatient philistine who can't appreciate good art. I think the following fact will help to make both of those claims clear: one of my all-time favorite movies, which I've seen and savored three times, is the 225-minute-long feminist masterpiece Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels, directed by Chantal Akerman with an almost all female crew, in which extremely long (like, 8+ minutes), static, nearly silent shots of a woman doing her housework over the course of 48 hours document an extremely gripping and powerfully moving statement about modern oppression. If that's sufficient evidence to prove that I'm not a troll, then trust me when I tell you that The Souvenir is truly awful.

I almost never check my phone while I'm at the movie theater, but after what seemed like an eternity, I peeked in my pocket to check the time. I figured this breach of etiquette was fine; there were only six other people in the theater besides my husband--a party of five old women in the front row, and a young man several seats to my right who was quietly snoring throughout most of the movie. I was shocked when I saw that only 80 minutes had passed--meaning that 40 more remained. At that point, I considered walking out, but my hope was that some whopper of an ending would rack everything into focus and create a wallop of an impact. Nope. The ending is, in fact, the very worst and most pretentious part of the film.

The acting is technically all fine, as is all the craftsmanship (cinematography, sound mixing, etc.). But what on earth is the point? On the drive home, I found myself trying to argue to my husband (who also hated it) that perhaps it was all satire. The main character is thoroughly uninteresting, extremely naive, and at times outright obnoxious. She's a young woman of unmistakable privilege (her mother lives in a castle, essentially) who wants to make a movie about poor struggling dockworkers living in a town she's only visited on a couple of occasions. In several scenes, she tries to articulate what she wants to do with her filmmaking; while these scenes are certainly very realistic insofar as they capture the cliched sentiment of a budding undergrad bourgeois artist who has nothing to say but demands the right to say it, they aren't terribly scintillating. If they're supposed to make us see that this young woman is talented and passionate, then they achieved the exact opposite effect for me, which is why I found myself wondering if it was a satire. At one point, a professor asks her if her art is motivated by some political (i.e., Marxist?) drive, she fumblingly states that yes, she wants to experience other cultures outside of her privileged bubble by directing and writing (i.e. ventriloquizing) stories in a voice she knows nothing about. In that same scene, a character tells her that she should probably just write from within her own experience...

Which is interesting because that's precisely the film that The Souvenir is. Instead of making a film about the cliched miseries of downtrodden dockworkers, Hogg has instead made a film about how the fabulously wealthy are also les miserables and how they, too, bleed when you prick them with either snide remarks about how privileged they are or a heroin syringe. There are multiple scenes set at film school, in which nameless characters are filming what looks like absolute garbage--women in bad costumes sitting on stools reciting nineteenth-century poetry to the camera, etc. No context whatsoever is given for these numerous scenes. In what scene, they have the most asinine conversation about what a great feat of cinema the shower scene from Psycho is. Again, is this satire? Are we supposed to think that these are pretentious blowhards making art despite having nothing to say? Or are we supposed to pretend that these scenes are actually interesting?

The first forty minutes or so contain some mildly interesting scenes which suggest that the main conflict will be a more subtle story about toxic masculinity. My first impression was that the male love interest was there simply to poke holes in the female protagonist's self-esteem--that, basically, this would be a story about a negative nihilist trying to destroy a younger woman's hopes and dreams for no particular reason. Unfortunately, midway through the film it's revealed that the conflict is far more stereotypical than that, and once the true conflict is revealed, it becomes utterly predictable and completely uninteresting. I don't want to spoil much, but there's a long, tedious, pointless scene late in the film in which the protagonist's father (or maybe her stepfather / mother's boyfriend... I couldn't tell) speculates about what classes he would take if he were to take college courses in his retirement ("I don't know... perhaps land management....? Then again, I was always interested in history.... So maybe history....") Again, I had to wonder if this film was devious, trenchant satire--if, contrary to the film's ostensible message, it was in fact trying to argue that we should all just give up on life and become drug addicts. This film is so mind-numbingly tedious that it certainly makes opioid addiction seem like a viable life choice.

The biggest shock for me was that they're making a sequel. I would sooner pay someone to administer a drug overdose to me than sit through that. This movie might strike a chord with you if you yourself are bourgeois, vapid, and feel that life is generally just one big waste of idle time . But might I suggest you go to a wine bar instead?
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dreary autobiographical exercise
mightythor4714 June 2019
If you think your life is dreary, or you're sometimes not quite sure, have pity on posterity. Eschew self-portraiture.
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Wow so boring
PaoReno324 August 2019
So director turned her diary to movie ? Wow...Sometimes you just have to accept that your life IS BORING and it is NOT worth spending money to turn it to feature so you can torture innocent audience. Just audiobook it on your iphone and keep it to yourself. What a dull story. Uh !
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Warning: Do NOT see!
mamlukman8 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
My wife and I see about 80-90 movies (in theaters--not DVD or TV) every year. We go to film festivals. And "The Souvenir" is easily in my top 5 Worst Movies EVER.

This is one of those stream-of-life movies that have no point and pretend they are "deep" or "artistic" when they are simply devoid of any meaning or artistic pretense. Nothing happens (although, some reviewers kept expecting something to too...we were all disappointed).

The group of people I saw the movie with couldn't even agree on what happened: When did the girl meet the guy? Did she love him? Who was giving her the money--her mother or her grandmother? Did she even have a grandmother? Did the girl have two floors in her apartment? Or were those scenes supposed to be in her mother's apartment? And who on earth was the nude guy who hopped into bed with her ¾ of the way through??? You get the idea--even the most banal facts were obscured.

And the girl....when the guy says "Loan (ha ha) me £10, I'll be back in an hour..." Where does she think he's going? To do his laundry? And then she examines the inside of his arm and says, "Oh, look, you hurt yourself!" Track marks, sweetie. Track marks.

Plot? 0 Drama? 0 Interesting characters? 0 Coherence? 0 This is simply not worth anyone's time. Certainly not the interminable two hours it takes to watch it.
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Jamie_Seaton4 September 2019
I usually get in line to see a film that has anything to do with A24 film producers. Also 92/100 meta critic rating! Were they watching the same film! It was so boring and has nothing going for it. The characters are not interesting and the story is pointless. The critics are dead wrong about this one in my opinion. Avoid at all costs! It'll bore you to death, that coming from a guy who loves slow burn films.
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Disquieting, slightly aloof drama about a poisonous relationship
PotassiumMan20 May 2019
Honor Swinton Byrne gives a profoundly subtle performance as an impressionable film student from a privileged upbringing who becomes romantically involved with an enigmatic, charming man who works for the British government. Tom Burke is a stark presence as the young woman's muse. They gradually become inseparable.

She is a thoughtful, sensitive person who soon finds herself navigating the pitfalls of his serpentine personality. The film proceeds at a very deliberate pace and is low-key to the point of being catatonic at times. The main criticism of this film is that its slow patches do go on for quite a bit. But out of this dry and methodical narrative eventually emerges a raw tension leading to a conclusion that is quite powerful.

Although this isn't quite the masterpiece that many reviews have made it out to be, I found it a worthwhile and subtly rewarding cinematic experience. Recommended to patient viewers.
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Shockingly anti-climatic
loveblackpoem28 May 2019
Quite early on I could tell what was going on in the film. I even had a guess at what the end would be. Despite this, I continued watching expecting more, something big, something shocking and I never really got it. The director does a great job at showing the ins and outs of a toxic relationship, however, it's just not enough.
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A Pretentious Drawl
daviddan2225 June 2019
The souvenir's pretentious nature could be forgiven if it showed a little emotion. Throughout the entire movie, I couldn't help but find the absence of music strange. It made the movie feel very dull and I can't understand why the movie almost never had bgm. Certain wide shots of the movie go on for an unnecessary length of time. You keep wishing they would do a medium shot or a close up and it just draws on. Scene transitions are tonally jarring and awkward. I can't remember the last time I was this board watching a movie.
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Mixed Feelings
tofualicia8 January 2020
Being in love has this cunning way of tricking your brain into seeing no flaw in the person you're fixated upon. When people around you scream "dump him!", you turn a blind eye and convince yourself that the person you love is not the monster they say he is. The person you love will always be the most charming and kind, even when they're not.

The Souvenir tells a story about a privileged film student who involves herself in an intense relationship with a shady older man, who is full of charisma.

I can definitely see why this film is getting mixed ratings. The pacing was rather slow and the story was under-dramatized. I see a lot of reviewers really disliking this film due to the unbearable toxic romance between the two characters. I mean, I can somewhat agree. Seriously, just break up already! But sometimes relationships are just... like that. People often stay in toxic situations even if they can clearly see the red flags. People cling on to the slightest glisten of hope when everything is falling apart. As they say, it really... do be like that.

I loved the cinematic direction they took in this film. I felt like I was looking into the memories of the protagonist. The faded dream-like colour scheme really pulls the film together. I was really lured into the soft pastel universe that was created on screen. Did I mention how much I loved the cinematics?

What I couldn't see past was how unlikeable Julie and Anthony are. Julie is a privileged film student that tries really hard to be interesting, and Anthony is this pretentious, manipulative douchebag of a person. I just can't seem to find any redeeming qualities in the characters, which makes it hard for me to fully connect with this story. But maybe this film wasn't made for the viewer to be connected to any of the characters. Maybe this film was made to be consumed as what it is. A naive girl falling in love with a secretive older man.

Nevertheless, The Souvenir really made me sit and ponder about the film a lot. I'm still processing the emotions I've felt throughout the film and that should be enough for me to give it a good enough rating. I just wish it could've resonated with me in a stronger way.
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Topmost pretensious film of the decade
sohil-vaidya2 January 2020
I haven't seen a pretensious film like this I decades. I am a huge sucker for slow burning art house films but this film was just bad. It had mediocre cinematography, amateurish direction from a well know director, performances felt contrived(felt like they were told to speak in low voices), dialogues were pretensious, gashh screenplay felt like it had been developed in a film school with bunch of film nerds giving self indulgent notes.

It's sad that today's critics are so mediocre, they just jump on the bandwagon and write agenda driven reviews. A known reviewer writers a good review and bunch of amateurs just cheerlead for him with their reviews. There are many films like Andrei Rublev or Burning that I didn't fully grasp in the first viewing and appreciated more in second go but there was something about them which felt real and true. I felt I needed more understanding about culture, or political scenarios. With The Souvenir, I totally understood the film in first go and I thought it was aweful.
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maclock10 July 2019
While I'm normally a fan of this kind of production, The Souvenir did very little to draw me in. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I didn't find it to be all that compelling or engaging. I wouldn't go out of my way to see this film if I were you.
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