‘The Souvenir’ strips away toxic beau’s mystery — and clothes


In director Joanna Hogg’s semi-autobiographical collage of a movie, Honor Swinton Byrne (daughter of Tilda Swinton, who plays her mother) is Julie, an ambitious film student. She’s navigating the tumult of a new relationship while working on her first cinematic project — a tough combo.

Her older boyfriend, Anthony (Tom Burke), is handsome, sardonic and enigmatic, the latter in a way that becomes increasingly problematic. It doesn’t lessen the attraction for Julie, however, until Anthony has truly become a cancer on her aspirations.

Hogg (“Exhibition”) sets “The Souvenir” in the 1980s but shoots her subjects with the long-armed reserve of a period piece; the ivory-complexioned Byrne bears a resemblance to 18th- and 19th-century European portraits glimpsed throughout. Hogg also pretty uniquely features a shot of full-frontal male nudity, while keeping her female lead clothed. I enjoyed this gender swap. Call it the Peen New Deal.