The Eternal Daughter (Joanna Hogg, 2022, USA/UK)

The Eternal Daughter is the latest directorial effort from British auteur Joanna Hogg. Hogg's work - in particular her last two films The Souvenir and The Souvenir Part II - have been met with exceptional acclaim in critical and festival circles. Daughter sees Hogg reuniting with Tilda Swinton, who also featured in her last two films. Here Swinton plays Julie, a filmmaker, and her mother Rosalind. Julie is taking Rosalind to an old Welsh hotel that once belonged to her mother's family, for her mother's birthday. Quickly, it becomes apparent that everything is not as it seems. For one, there are only two other people present at the hotel - the front desk clerk (Carly-Sophia Davies) and the aging groundskeeper (Alfie Sankey-Green).

The artifice of the film's construction is apparent from the beginning, as Hogg chooses to show Julie and Rosalind only in two shots - never in the same frame. While we understand they are being played by the same actress, this cinematographic choice reinforces the fact that we are watching the same actress play two roles. The film embodies several gothic tropes, including the fog-covered manor, the sound of strange noises in the night, and a recurring musical motif that echoes Kubrick's The Shining.

There is a deadpan comedy that permeates this film, which is a meta-reflection by Hogg on her relationship with her mother. While the film's twist ending is not a huge surprise, the film has enough atmosphere to sustain itself. Swinton of course gives a great performance, but some of the best performances come from the two supporting characters, particularly Sankey-Green as the hotel's groundskeeper, who seems to be a ghost out of another time. Altogether, The Eternal Daughter is an interesting if somewhat flawed effort. Nevertheless, it should appeal to the festival circuit.



Popular Posts