The Joanna Hogg Collection

The films that Joanna Hogg has made over the last decade are unique in British cinema. It’s not that the ‘genre’ she works in - family/relationship drama – is anything new. Nor is the class she focuses on – upper middle – anything out of the ordinary. It’s more how her films fit together; the precision with which she takes a scalpel to her characters’ lives, peeling away their layers of socially acceptable behaviour to reveal hidden, more venal selves, feels like she has created a completely different kind of cinema. And her new film ‘The Souvenir’, a semi-autobiographical portrait of youthful love, obsession and grief, finds Hogg at her very best. After the low-budget ‘Unrelated’, in which a family holidaying in Tuscany deal with the fallout of a guest’s personal crisis, Hogg produced a stunning satire of middle class life with ‘Archipelago’. Tom Hiddleston, who played the object of the family guest’s amorous attentions in Hogg’s previous feature, takes centre-stage here. He’s a son about to travel for a year and so the family gather on the Scilly Isles to say goodbye to him. But what good intentions lay behind the trip soon evaporate as bitter recriminations surface. The family can be cruel, their barbs wrapped in sardonic humour. The best of these moments is a lunch from hell in a near-empty restaurant. When the daughter appears to have exhausted the vitriol she shored up to attack her family, she turns on the staff with her shrill critique of her main course. ‘Exhibition’ explores the relationship between two artists living together in a beautiful house that they’re planning to sell. (Hiddleston appears once again, this time in a smaller role as an estate agent.) The film’s sound design alone is a reason to see/hear it. Hogg shows the highs and lows of cohabitation while drawing superb performances out of real-life artist Liam Gillick and former Slits band member Viv Albertine.

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