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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
The Souvenir is perhaps the most empathetic movie to capture that kind of bad romance, the way it seeps into every aspect of your life, the way it changes your behaviour, how you hold onto the memories of good times when things get rough and how after it ends, you're a changed person.
Julie is an aspiring film student who wants to tell stories outside her rarefied privilege. By chance at a party one night, she strikes up a conversation with Anthony, a mysterious and slightly older employee at the Foreign Office. He takes a great interest in her, challenges her ideas and courts her with letters that make her smile. Anthony introduces Julie to art, gives her movie recommendations and takes her out to fancy dinner clubs. He seamlessly becomes a part of her daily life and moves in with her. For Julie, it’s an idyllic whirlwind romance, until one night when she notices bruises on her lover’s arm. Anthony waves off her worries, but soon, more tell-tale signs begin to show. He constantly asks her for money, his absences grow longer and his behaviour becomes more erratic. One of his friends eventually asks Julie what’s she’s doing dating a heroin addict. Their romance starts to cracks but doesn’t break. She still loves him and stays by his side when he goes through withdrawals and waits for him through the night until he wanders back to her.
The movie touches on how important one feels when helping the person you love, the exhilaration of finding someone who understands you for the first time and the crushing realisation that you might be out of your depth with his problems. It recreates the sensation of riding an emotional roller coaster with an unstable partner: the dizzying highs, the free-falling lows and the unpredictable sharp turns that can be either terrifying or thrilling.