Tonight I saw The Souvenir, starring Honor Swinton Byrne and Tom Burke.
Julie (Swinton Byrne) is a film student in love with journalist Anthony (Burke), who also happens to be a heroin addict. It's England in the 1980s and she'll sacrifice everything for her art and her affair.
Who hasn't fallen for someone they shouldn't? Who hasn't made bad choices in the name of love ... or lust? Who hasn't stayed in toxic situations because of the emotions attached to them? These themes, along with a passionate thirst for the craft of film, are the tapestry that weaves this narrative together. Sort of.
I say 'sort of' because although the story is easy to follow, it's anything but linear, and the pace is agonizingly slow. Still, you can't look away. Swinton Byrne, who shares the screen with her real-life Mother (portraying her mother here too), Tilda Swinton, is phenomenal as a naive, yet fiercely dedicated film student. Tom Burke, as her tortured and torturous, addicted beau is equally compelling.
The way the film is shot captures the feel of the era it represents and what's left unsaid becomes just as important as the dialog that's spoken.
I wouldn't say I enjoyed the film, because it's a truly tragic story (and drawn from the real life of its creator, Joanna Hogg), but I certainly appreciated it and all that it represents.
If you're wondering why it's achieved almost universal acclaim, it's because of the lingering feelings about the powerful characters you're left with long after you leave the theater.