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Joanna Hogg Olivia Wilde Dominga Sotomayor

Top 3 Critics' Picks

Top 3 Critics’ Picks in Theaters this May: The Souvenir, Too Late to Die Young & Booksmart

Top 3 Critics’ Picks in Theaters this May: The Souvenir, Too Late to Die Young & Booksmart’s Top 3 Critics’ Picks offers a curated approach to the usual quandary: what would you recommend I see in theaters this month? While dated for a May release, we have a feeling that James Gray’s Ad Astra will shift to a fall date, but not to worry — we have a pair of films that began their film festival life in 2019 with Sundance preemed The Souvenir (A24 – May 17th) and SXSW preemed Booksmart (Annapurna Pictures – May 24th) that are worth the full price of admission and we have an award-winning festival darling of 2018 in Too Late to Die Young (KimStim -May 31st) to complete our trio of suggestions.

The Souvenir – Joanna Hogg
May 17th – Limited Release
Distributor: A24 (official site)
Fests: 2019 Sundance Film Festival, 2019 Berlin Film Festival

Achingly well-observed in its study of a young artist inspired, derailed and finally strengthened by a toxic relationship, it is at once the coming-of-age story of many women and a specific creative manifesto for one of modern British cinema’s most singular writer-directors.” – Joanna Hogg for Variety

unfolds with the random flow of remembrance, hopping from one flashbulb memory to another with little regard for pace or structure; it’s obvious why some of these scenes might have a lasting impact on Julie’s life, but there’s often little rhyme or reason to why certain moments stick with a person, and Hogg never ignores that fact for the sake of narrative convenience.” – David Ehrlich for IndieWire

The stark gaze of David Raedeker’s camera; the adventurous music choices, often playing against tone; the striking visual compositions; the backdrop of urban unrest caused by IRA bombings and other radical terrorist attacks in London — all this gives the film an invigorating rawness and realness that provides a fascinating contrast to the cool aestheticism of Hogg’s style. Bring on Part Two.” – David Rooney for The Hollywood Reporter


Booksmart – Olivia Wilde
May 24th – Wide Release
Distributor: Annapurna Pictures (official site)
Fests: 2019 SXSW Film Festival, 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival

The teen party movie has been done and redone so many times it may as well be an algorithm, so every new movie that rises to the challenge faces heavier expectations. “Booksmart,” yet another buddy movie about one wild night at the end of high school, confronts these odds with a savage wit that never slows down.” Eric Kohn for IndieWire.

Booksmart is inclusive and progressive without feeling forced and announces Wilde, an actor who hasn’t always found her groove on screen, as a major director, one of the more impressive behind-the-camera transitions I have seen for a while.” – Benjamin Lee for The Guardian

What’s more, the film rejects the notion that conquests ought to be so central to coming-of-age stories, delivering a romp that’s every bit as outrageous as “American Pie” or “Porky’s” while shifting its focus away from hookups (these ladies will undoubtedly find far more deserving partners in college) to whether their friendship can withstand such a wild and crazy night.” – Peter Debruge for Variety


Too Late to Die Young – Dominga Sotomayor
May 31st – Limited Release
Distributor: KimStim
Fests: 2018 Locarno Film Festival, 2018 TIFF, 2018 NYFF, 2018 London BFI, 2019 Rotterdam

satisfying sensorial work, unmistakably grounded in independent South American cinema, and should see a thriving festival life.” – Jay Weissberg for Variety

an ambitious feat of storytelling delivered with a sensitivity to mood and emotion that should bring further festival acclaim for writer/producer/director Dominga Sotomayor.” – Allan Hunter for Screen Daily

an atmospheric and sensorial experience than strictly a narrative one, this languorous and handsomely produced (by Call Me by Your Name producer Rodrigo Teixeira) feature is a lovingly textured addition to the coming-of-age genre.” – Boyd van Hoeij for The Hollywood Reporter

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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