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Souvenir 2016



As film industry reviewers, we say Souvenir is one of our non-favorite movies. Please VOTE!

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A young fan. A fallen star. A second chance.

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About the Souvenir 💬

Liliane Cheverny (Isabelle Huppert) was once ''Laura'', a rising star in the singing world, who had her moment of glory when she finished second in the 1974 European Song Contest behind Abba. Today, everyone has forgotten her brush with fame, and she works in a pasta factory...

Liliane (Isabelle Huppert) lives a modest and monotonous life. By day, she works in a pâté factory, and by night, she sits on the couch and watches TV. One day, a new worker named Jean Leloup (Kévin Azaïs) arrives. The two form a platonic relationship, but Jean grows increasingly convinced that he recognizes Liliane from a European singing contest he saw as a child. Eventually, Jean convinces Liliane to confront her past. Souvenir is a beautiful portrayal of a friendship between two people from different generations, who come together to make a life-changing comeback.


Q: How did the idea for the film come about?

Bavo Defurne: I was wondering what happened to the people who don't win singing competitions like these. What does it feel like to have been in the spotlight and then suddenly find yourself in the shadows? There are many examples of people who have been forgotten. What happens to them? In Flanders, there was that striking example of a singer who became a sales assistant in a shop. What happens when one returns to anonymity? It's something that fascinates me. Liliane hid her star quality in her apartment, and Jean re-discovers it.

Q: SOUVENIR is a story of romantic and atypical love, but is it also a metaphor for celebrity?

Bavo Defurne: I'm interested in contrasts. At the start of the film, Liliane is cold and distant, but we can see that she has a past life. So we had to bring back to life the star behind the forgotten celebrity. Jean opens a veritable Pandora's Box. The sudden entrance of this young man breathes new life into Liliane's faded past. His very presence refocuses the spotlight back on her. And in the end, Liliane and Jean are so clearly made for one another that nobody cares about the age difference. Their passion is so clearly reciprocal that nothing else matters. My vision of the world is not simply black and white. My characters have doubts and their emotional development is unique to each. That's why it is essential that as soon as they meet, the audience wants them to be together - it needed to be a foregone conclusion on screen.

Q: Since the early days of your career, you have acquired a reputation for the attention you pay to the esthetic of your films and for your taste for detail. Tell us about the style of SOUVENIR.

Bavo Defurne: I wanted something magical, I wanted the film to feel like a dream. But the social reality of the characters was also very important to me. For the set, we found this amazing former abattoir in Luxembourg which allowed us to play with contrasts. On the one hand, there's the massive cold space of the factory, and on the other, we very carefully constructed Liliane's apartment there. Every detail was key to creating her universe. I work a great deal on accessories - I love that. I combine vintage with modern, and with art deco. I'm not interested in following any particular fashion, but it has to be beautiful. The lighting is also very important in the film. My DP Philippe Guilbert and I worked very hard on the photography, as did André Fosny and I on the sets. Isabelle Huppert's clothes were designed by Johanne Riss, a stylist from Brussels. They are magical, truly bringing out Liliane's character. Cinema is the art of recreating a world.

Q: SOUVENIR is a Flemish film shot in French, which is quite rare. To which cinematographic movement do you feel you belong?

Bavo Defurne: I don't belong to a particular movement, but I do know my classics! I learned a lot from people like Hitchcock and Fritz Lang. I also feel the influence of Douglas Sirk, Fassbinder, and Almodovar, for their style and their direct emotions. SOUVENIR is a Flemish film, even if that's tricky to define. It's true that there is a long Flemish pictorial tradition that has a powerful influence on today's designers and creators. But in Flanders - and in Belgium in general - we also like ''real'' characters with their feet firmly planted on the ground, and a strong sense of social reality as demonstrated by the Dardenne brothers, for example. That’s why I also really like the Belgian casting of SOUVENIR, from Jan Hammenecker to Johan Leysen. Maybe what defines my films best is the importance given to the characters' emotions. To covey them as authentically as possible, I stylize as much as I can, to create a dreamlike world. And it's in this world that the actors evolve.

We access their imagination through photography and music. And in the end, that removes any geographical frontiers. My films could be seen as universal fairytales.

Souvenir Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Bavo Defurne

Writing Credits

Bavo Defurne, Jacques Boon and Yves Berbraeken (Written by)

Bavo Defurne (Original idea)


Isabelle Huppert

Kévin Azaïs

Johan Leysen

Anne Brionne

Jan Hammenecker

Sophie Mousel

Benjamin Boutboul

Carlo Ferrante

Thomas Coumans

Music by

Pink Martini

Thomas Mack Lauderdale

Cinematography by

Philippe Guilbert

Virginie Saint-Martin

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Music, Romance

Countries: Belgium, Luxembourg, France

Souvenir Official Trailer

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