A potentially dramatic story has been flattened out into a string of unconvincing confrontations and coincidences in Souvenir, an earnest but bland film about a former Nazi soldier’s need to unburden himself of guilt 40 years after the war.
Based on David Hughes acclaimed novel The Pork Butcher, tale sees German native Christopher Plummer leaving his adopted country of the US for the first time since the war to see his daughter in Paris. His real mission, however, is to return to the French village of Lascaud where, as a young recruit, he had an unforgettable love affair with a local girl and, as it turns out, played an unwitting part in the massacre of more than 100 townsfolk.
Unfortunately most of the first half of the picture has his immature, unhappy, incredibly irritating daughter, played by Catherine Hicks, acting very intolerant and impatient with her old man. Furthermore, most of her dialogue consists of questions, designed to elicit expository ramblings from Plummer.
Shady Brit journalist Christopher Casenove turns up to interrogate the principals further, and to provide Hicks with some distraction while Plummer revisits the scenes of his youth and broods about his crimes and lost love.
Plummer looks appropriately tortured throughout, but Geoffrey Reeve, making the transaction from producer’s desk to director’s chair, never gets under his skin or draws the audience close to him.