Parents' Guide to

The Souvenir

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Languid, lovely drama is best for patient adults.

Movie R 2019 119 minutes
The Souvenir Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 15+

A film that requires a lot of patience and introspection

This film is slow, feels meandering because we are so used to being led decisively through a film and offered little room for diversion. The film is layered in its critique of itself, of this relationship and of Julie. A brave film. A sad film where hindsight is obvious, but I absolutely believed that Julie could not see it. He is not amazing, but he is to her and her existence hinges on that he wants to spend time with her. Powerful, moving, quiet, and painful. A wonderful film.
age 16+

Self indulgent and unrelatable

This film was visually appealing and we appreciated the subtle portrayal of the time in which it was set. Tilda Swinton was a delight on the screen as always and her interaction with her daughter was engaging and endearing. Unfortunately, that’s about the full extent of positive feedback I can offer. The two main characters were barely likeable and even less relatable. They were both rather boring and their relationship left you feeling lack lustre and flat. The complexity of the heroin usage offered a small token of hope in making the film interesting but instead it continues in an equally flat and indulgent manner. I really wanted to like this one, but it fell rather flat and I’d never recommend it.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (3 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

It takes a lot of time getting there, but this shimmering drama is singular and unforgettable for viewers who are patient enough to wait for its rewards. One detail may clue you in on whether you might enjoy The Souvenir or not: Toward the end of the movie, viewers watch a metal door open for 20 seconds, and then there are another 20 before the main character walks through it and the camera cuts away. Of course, in the context of the movie, that long (long!) moment is a beautiful one: A woman we've gotten to know and sympathize with is leaving behind a troublesome situation and moving on with her life. Having watched her alternately struggle and stagnate for the better part of two hours, the opening door means something. But audiences who insist on plots ticking along probably will have likely already quit watching in frustration.

Because it's true that this drama plays out in long, real-time scenes over cafe tables and in living rooms, with Julie and her family and friends chatting easily about art and life. For a leisurely stretch of The Souvenir, it's not even really clear what it's about. We know Julie wants to make a movie, and we see that she's privileged enough that she can take her time doing it, but she seems as unclear about what she wants to make and why as we are about where this story is going. Eventually, a romance emerges with a man who explains things at length to her and words the answers to some of her questions in a way that the audience knows spells trouble. And that trouble does arrive, though that's not to imply that the movie is predictable. Instead, like people themselves, it's sometimes frustrating and sometimes lovely, with conclusions that are neither easy nor simple and take a long time to show themselves.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: May 17, 2019
  • On DVD or streaming: August 6, 2019
  • Cast: Tilda Swinton , Honor Swinton Byrne , Tom Burke
  • Director: Joanna Hogg
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: A24
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 119 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: some sexuality, graphic nudity, drug material and language
  • Last updated: August 11, 2023

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