London Film Festival 2021: Souvenir Box | Review

September 29, 2021


Memory box tells the story of Maia (Rim Turki), a Lebanese woman living in Montreal with her teenage daughter, Alex (Paloma Vauthier). On Christmas Eve, Maia receives a box full of photos, tapes and letters that she sent to her old friend Liza; she hesitates to read the content and confront her past, but Alex is captivated by Maia’s tales of her teenage life and, opening the box, discovers sides of her mother she has never seen before.

This Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige film makes great use of its main plot, which features loosely adapted correspondences from letters that director Hadjithomas wrote in her youth, mixing cinematic styles and conventions in a captivating way to tell a complicated and moving story. . Maia’s story is compelling, filled with love and loss in the context of the Lebanese civil war, and it is communicated beautifully and with nuance.

The production also does an excellent job of conveying the tactile feel of physical media in its cinematography, invoking a true sense of nostalgia that perfectly fuels the themes of memory and allows for a fresh and engaging cinematic experience. This includes sound design, which emphasizes the audio hiss and the physical clicks and roar of the cameras, as well as the visuals, which play with stop-motion animation and time-lapse photography to communicate the inherent narrative dead spaces. to old photos. Nostalgia is equal parts memory and pain, and the stylistic choices made here represent the joy and pain of remembering perfectly.

With such a close focus on Maia and her relationships in the past and present, this movie really needed a solid performance to hit its beats, and Turki and Vauthier deliver some fantastic, moving performances that reinforce the already strong script and cinematography. Manal Issa also stars as a young Maia, and she and Turki paint a full and complex picture of the character, seamlessly describing her evolution from a rebellious and idealistic teenager to a mother haunted by her past.

Memory box is a deep and moving piece, telling a beautiful and complex story in a creative and emotional way. It’s a film that explores trauma and tragedy, and it does so with care, but it’s also upbeat, with visions of a bright and happy future. The sun can go down Memory box said, but it goes up too.

Oumar Ali

Memory box released in select cinemas on the 3rdrd December 2021.

Read more reviews and interviews from our coverage of the London Film Festival 2021 here.

For more information about the festival, visit the official BFI website here.

Watch the trailer for Memory box here: