IN her latest drama, British writer-director Joanna Hogg’s heroine is a young woman filmmaker assailed by privilege. She does not know what she wants to say or how to say it. How can she make a film about a grim life up north when she owns a flat round the corner from Harrods?

Hogg has said the film is partly autobiographical, and it is certainly likely to attract the same criticism that has been directed at her in the past, that she makes films about the middle classes and their middle class problems. Healing a broken heart in Tuscany, for example (Unrelated), or two artists selling their home (Exhibition).

While her work might have been the cinematic equivalent of watching Farrow and Ball paint dry, she is one of the most bewitching filmmakers around. In the opening moments of every one of her films I think, this is it, the one that will show the empress unrobed. Yet every time I am spellbound. Hogg makes films in which little seems to happen but everything important occurs, even if one only realises it later.

The Souvenir, which lists one Martin Scorsese among its producers, stands out because it has a more obvious plot than her previous three pictures, drawn as it is from her personal experiences of being a film student in the 1980s. Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) is a dabbler. She dabbles in photography, and on a trip to Sunderland she has an idea for a feature film. While knowing next to nothing about the lives she wants to depict, she doesn’t want to exist in a “bubble” of wealth and advantage.

Into Julie’s life strolls Anthony (Tom Burke, Cormoran Strike). Anthony is older, says he is something in the Foreign Office, never has any money and disappears frequently. What starts as a budding romance in which he charms her with postcards of paintings, including the titular one by Fragonard, becomes a tangle of lies and dependency.

While it is obvious to the viewer what is going on, Julie seems either astonishingly naive or wilfully blind. The pair are locked together and their increasingly chaotic existence threatens to derail her life for good.

Swinton Byrne, the daughter of Tilda Swinton (who plays her mother here) and John Byrne, is astonishingly good, particularly given her only previous acting credit was I Am Love, again with her mother. Burke’s performance as the hard to like, easy to love Anthony makes the central relationship seem all too believable. Hogg, with her genius for showing rather than telling, does the rest. Whatever the background, a great filmmaker is a great filmmaker is a great filmmaker.

GFT until September 15; Filmhouse, Edinburgh, September 6-19