Joanna Hogg made her first film when she was already 47.
Unrelated (2007), shot with an amateur videocamera,
Exhibition (2013), that features the Slits' guitarist Viv Albertine and conceptual artist Liam Gillick,
On the surface, the autobiographical Souvenir (2019) is simply a melodrama, a
doomed love story. However, there is obviously a psychological obsession
at work, as the young innocent protagonist is oblivious to all bad omens and easily
seduced by her lover no matter what he does to make her life miserable.
There is also a metaphor about making films: the experts tell her that
she needs to relate the experience of her film's plot to her own personal
experiences, and her love story parallels precisely the "love" story in her
film between a boy and his mom.
The story is set in 1984, in the Margaret Thatcher era, during the IRA bombings and the Libyan hostage
crisis in London, in the age of typewriters, pay phones and chain smokers.
Julie is a young student of cinema who wants to make a film about a 16-year-old
boy, Tony, who is morbidly attacked to his mother and lives in fear that one day she
will die. We see still black and white photographs of the boy's neighborhood.
She types her script on a typewriter. Her mother Rosalind is supportive.
She meets Anthony, a chain smoker who introduces himself as working for the foreign office.
He invites her to a classy cafe and psychoanalyzes her passion for the
story of Tony. She falls in love. They visit his parents. Anthony asks her
to stay two nights at her place to work on something mysterious, but mostly
seems to play opera
(Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle").
Anthony keeps psychoanalyzing her. Then he suddenly leaves for Paris.
He sends her a love letter. Julie's housemate Frankie moves out.
Julie defends her idea for the film on Tony at a sort of audition at
her film school. Anthony returns from Paris with a gift, sexy lingerie.
While they make love, Julie notices needle marks on his arm.
Julie borrows money from her mother saying that it is
to pay for her school. Anthony and Julie visit her parents, who are
wealthy and live in a giant mansion in the countryside.
Then they have dinner with Anthony's friend Patrick and his wife. While
Anthony is away, Patrick reveals to Julie that Anthony is a heavy heroin user.
She is shocked and at night cries silently. She pays the next dinner at a classy
dinner, during the Christmas holidays. Anthony moves in with her. It looks like
Anthony is penniless, despite his boasting that he works for the foreign office
to protect citizens from terrorists. One day Julie comes home and finds that
burglars broke into her apartment and stole everything of value. At the same
time Anthony pays for an expensive train trip to Venice, hotel and opera.
Julie finally understands that he is the thief and he paid everything with
her money. Back home she confronts him about the theft but he calmly smokes
his cigarette in front, until eventually she's the one apologizing to him.
The radio broadcasts news about the 1984 Libyan hostage and Anthony
pretends to be involved in the negotiations.
Julie starts filming her project at her film school.
She also attends a meeting of former addicts who talk about their rehabilitation.
One day she finds a trail of paper on the steps to her apartment leading to
the window, and then she hears a loud explosion. The radio broadcast talk
about a car bomb. Another day she gets home to find a stranger, who tries
to talk about Anthony, but she kicks him out. She calls her mom: she needs
more money. She catches an infection and doesn't tell the doctor that most
likely she got it from Anthony. Then Anthony's mom Barbara calls that he has
been arrested. When he reappears, she asks him to leave.
Filming continues, but schoolmates notice that he's not focused, and she
confesses that she's had six difficult months because of her love story.
Now that Anthony is gone she writes a lot. She also has sex with another man.
Anthony's mom calls that Anthony has disappeared. He reappears and invites
her at the fancy restaurant. Anthony cries at the table. She welcomes him
again in her life and her house, but in the middle of the night he is
shaken by shivers, injures himself, crawls like a madman. She writes in
her diary of six days of pain, and that Janet (presumably
Tony's mother in her film) will have to die within 12 hours.
Anthony and Julie have a picnic and he tells her that he's fine.
Her parents come to celebrate her 25th birthday. Her mom Rosalind stays and Anthony
moves downstairs. The filming continues. One night Anthony doesn't come home.
Julie is worried. Then the phone rings and Rosalind picks up: it's Anthony's mom
announcing Anthony's death for overdose.
The giant door of a hangar opens slowly. A woman walks out, occupying only
a tiny portion of the opening.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx) |
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