St. Gloede wrote: ↑September 29th, 2020, 9:50 am I was not on the same wavelegth as A Souvenir unfortunately. I read the feature in Sight and Sound, and got extra excited when they were selected as the best film of 2019, but I just do not understand it. Stylistically I did not see anything of note, and it runs like a fairly ordinary mid-range British drama, with slightly loftier ambitions. To be far, the slightly more distanced/muted/stylized acting could be a point of interest, but it was not taking to a degree of stylistic purity that hooks me, it was just a softer element. I did thoroughly enjoy it. It was a pleasant film, with a solid central performance, and some nice scenes - but all I saw was a good film - and I don't see/understand what made it stand out for others. Is it the coming of age, characters and dialog? That did have something extra, and people do push how personal it can feel, but nothing that spellbound me. Would definitely love to hear more from those who loved it.
(Will push A Sun upwards in my current watchlist - it was quite far down the list)
Let me say again that I have seen precious little from 2019 (24 films to be exact), and only 5 of those discussed in the podcast, of which only 2, maybe 3, struck me as list worthy.
Referencing what I have already seen, A Souvenir and A Sun both stood out to me as two films that would probably be in my own current top 5, though I am quite sure that neither will end up close to that when I have seen more from last year (the 5 on your list, for example, are all very attractive to me). I have a total (including your 5 and a few others from the podcast) of 38 films from 2019 on my growing list to see, and expect to have a completely different top 5 by the time i finish those.
Having said that, I think what appealed to me about the Souvenir is how well it was structured. I didn't know much about it (and had seen nothing before from Hogg) before I saw it, and so I didn't expect much (it was the same with A Sun), just thought I would check it out one night on Prime, and found myself drawn in, little by little to what turned to be the anatomy of a failed relationship (not unlike the more publicized Marriage Story, which I had seen not too long before).
Whereas Marriage story went after "the whole story," by highlighting the dramatic elements, while trying to paint a complete picture, A Souvenir felt like a reflection made up of memories that one by one led to an understanding and acceptance of a past life experience. Not sure I'm explaining what I mean very clearly, but there was something very natural and true about the way Hogg told her story that finally impressed me.
I thought Marriage Story was pretty good, as well (especially Adam Driver), but not as special as critics made it out to be, and when I saw A Souvenir it fulfilled me in ways that Marriage Story hadn't, first and foremost by feeling like an artful truth, though the artfulness is understated. So, I found it to be more than "a fairly ordinary mid-range British drama, with slightly loftier ambitions," and what made it stand out to me was the unassuming way that it revealed itself in fragments.
It was by no means a film that swept me off my feet, but one that grew on me, bit by bit until i realized that it had really done its job. I have seen another film by Hogg since that takes place in the course of a Summer holiday, where the time period and place are more confining, yet Hogg evidences the same careful, step by step build up to revelations about relationships which seem to be what she likes to examine.
As for A Sun, it was also something I stumbled upon, without having heard anything about previously. As I am living in China at the moment, I have been trying to see some Chinese films, and I think it was the look of this one that attracted me. Though it is nothing like A Souvenir, similarly, it was a film that grew on me over time. In the case of this one, its length worked to its advantage because it allowed me to bond with the main character and his family. In that sense, I might compare it to Hou's A Time to Live, A Time to Die, though it hedges more towards melodrama.