We watched The Souvenir last night, a troubling, disturbing and emotionally claustrophobic film, which is said to be partly autobiographical, and which we found the more disturbing because so many of the characteristics of the main character, Anthony, replicate in strange detail the life of Nick Coker, a friend of ours who was so exactly as Anthony is in the film, handsome, but louche, at Cambridge and then the Courtauld Institute, always living and spending beyond his means, always pretending that he had a life in the secret service (it was never made clear if it was the British or Russian), was a heroin addict, and, as Anthony does in the film, died of a drug overdose in the gentleman’s lavatories of the Wallace Collection.
So, is this a question of art imitating life ? Is it just an accident ? I was long ago castigated by a writer for seeing a possible correspondence to a fictional character. But Coker created a mythology of himself and was a close friend of the filmmaker, Julien Temple. The coincidences are too great.