Review: ‘Souvenir’

Brevity is the primary virtue of musicvideo helmer Michael H. Shamberg's feature debut, but even at 74 slim minutes the scarcely penetrable experimentalism of primarily English-language, Paris-shot "Souvenir" seems awfully attenuated.

Brevity is the primary virtue of musicvideo helmer Michael H. Shamberg’s feature debut, but even at 74 slim minutes the scarcely penetrable experimentalism of primarily English-language, Paris-shot “Souvenir” seems awfully attenuated. Despite marginal participation from Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci, this looks unlikely to travel beyond a few fests and avant-garde showcases.

Pic is meant to be a portrait of displacement — that of a heroine portentously named Orlando (Stanton Miranda) as an American sports journalist living in Paris, and as a survivor of paternal childhood abuse and incestuous relations with a late brother. But precious little insight is evoked as she wanders dazedly around the rainy city; nor are the film’s often blurry, mannered , multiformat visual and near-arbitrary aural fragmentations very prepossessing. Pretentious verbiage (“Architecture is the art of loneliness,” “How nice it would be to see a cow giving birth”) adds to the overall turgidity. Chris Marker contributes computer graphics, and notable Anglo and Gallic thesps appear fleetingly — Scott Thomas’ crisp professionalism briefly enlivens things in one monologue as Orlando’s concerned boss, while Ricci is limited to voiceover as protag’s younger self.

Souvenir

Production

A Cascando Studios production. Produced, directed, written by Michael H. Shamberg. Executive producers, Edward Richardson, Skip Lievsay, Lawrence Weiner, Liz Sobolewski. Co-producers, Joana Vicente, Jason Kliot, ISKRA.

Crew

Camera (color), James Herbert; editors, Laura Israel, Kristina Boden, David Frankel, Lars Vinther; production designer, Marta Wengorovius. Reviewed at Mill Valley Film Festival, Oct. 11, 1999. Running time: 74 MIN.

With

Stanton Miranda, Manon Blanc, Kristin Scott Thomas, Melvil Poupaud, Hugues Quester, Laurence Cote, Serge Avedikian, Geoffrey Carey. Voices: Christina Ricci, Adam Hann-Byrd, Linda Bove, Priscilla Reeves.
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