December 19, 2022

GENRE | Tilda Swinton Haunts 'The Eternal Daughter' x TIFF 2022

"I had a very unsettled night."
Tilda Swinton Joanna Hogg | The Eternal Daughter A24
Toronto International Film Festival
British auteur Joanna Hogg has created a haunting, single-location ghost story with shades of gothic horror set on the foggy moors of the English countryside. The Eternal Daughter is a loose continuation of Hogg's previous semi-autobiographical The Souvenir films reteaming with her longtime friend and collaborator Tilda Swinton.

Set decades after The Souvenir Part II, Swinton portrays a now middle-aged Julie Hart, initially played by her real-life daughter Honor Swinton Byrne in the 1980s, as well as reprising her role as Julie's now aging mother Rosalind in a twisty, meta dual role. It's an interesting turn for the actress to both reprise an existing character as an older figure while also continuing a role her daughter originated as loosely inspired by the director's actual life.

The Eternal Daughter is another intriguing work of reimagining your own life through faded memories. This time, Hogg's film is focused squarely on remembering her mother as she wishes to and creating a lasting documentation of it. It's an abstract work of meta-casting and execution. Left largely alone in an isolated mansion of a hotel, Swinton must carry the film acting against herself reflexively. Julie struggles to write a film about her and her mother—presumably, the film we are watching.

Hogg's captivating follow-up to the already twisty self-referential meta-narrative of The Souvenir Part II is an eerie haunted house movie doubling as a slow, contemplative rumination of living and dying. Its spooky unsettledness mirrors realistic depictions of familial relationships. The Eternal Daughter is a sparse but meaningful piece of art reflecting on itself through the act of storytelling.

The Eternal Daughter screened at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival as part of the Special Presentations program. It also screens at the VIFF Centre, Rio Theatre, and is available through digital and video on demand.

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