Sunday 26 March 2023

The Eternal Daughter [2022]

 Joanna Hogg’s The Eternal Daughter formed a trilogy of sorts with her remarkable preceding films The Souvenir and The Souvenir Part II, despite the apparent stark differences in form, style, mood, composition and storytelling. Its incredibly brooding atmosphere, dominant elements of gothic mystery – including an air of horror even –, visceral evocation of a lost Victorian era, and incredibly – even oppressively – compact structure in that there were just four characters worth considering (and six overall), a steadfastly single setting, and a brief temporal scope, made it stand significantly apart vis-à-vis the two latter films. Nevertheless, it unequivocally pursued with the semi-autobiographical context, recursive metatextual aspects – the film being about the protagonist’s intensely personal process of constructing an autofiction film based on lived experiences –, complex mother-daughter relationship, and looming presence of memory as an underlying motif. It’s set in a palatial, uninhabited and eerily secluded hotel – surrounding by deserted, fog-enshrouded environs – where Julie (Tilda Swinton), a middle-aged filmmaker, and her octogenarian mother (Swinton) have come to stay in order to relive old memories of the mother – as this stately mansion was her home when she was a young girl during the WW2 days, before it was hived off and turned into a hotel – which the daughter hopes to know, understand and interpret through her next directorial venture. Its bleak, unnerving construct – the classic haunted house setting, a cold receptionist (Carly-Sophia Davies), a mysterious caretaker, and constant repetitions with small but unsettling changes in each cycle – added compelling layers to its haunting exploration of buried trauma, inescapable ghosts, malleability of art, and the blurring of lines between actual and interpreted memories, and these were filtered through Swinton’s marvellous double turn.

Director: Joanna Hogg

Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Mystery

Language: English

Country: UK

No comments: