LFF 2022: The Eternal Daughter

Two Tilda Swintons for the price of one in Joanna Hogg's curious ghost story, centering on Swinton playing a mother and daughter struggling to find a connection

Film Review by Rory Doherty | 07 Oct 2022
  • The Eternal Daughter
Film title: The Eternal Daughter
Director: Joanna Hogg
Starring: Tilda Swinton, August Joshi, Carly-Sophia Davis, Joseph Mydell, Crispin Buxton

Joanna Hogg’s latest, ostensibly a continuation of her Souvenir two-parter, provokes a peculiar feeling in its audience. Tilda Swinton, who played Rosalind – the mother to Honor Swinton-Byrne’s filmmaker Julie – in The Souvenir films, appears here as both a middle-aged Julie and as Rosalind in her dotage. Dual roles are not uncommon in drama, and such performances are often greeted with instant accolades, but while most filmmakers attempt to integrate double-performances with a level of slick seamlessness to make you forget two characters are ever played by the same actor, Hogg seems to intend the opposite.

In fact, every time the camera cuts from younger Swinton to older Swinton, it feels severe and abrupt; there’s never any doubt the two characters are in separate frames and set-ups, adding to a palpable sense of distance between mother and daughter. This filmmaking technique colours a lot of the relationship that defines The Eternal Daughter; a film about alienation and the ways lingering, undeciphered souls can haunt us.

Hogg’s film is, again, another meticulously slow-paced drama about privileged people chipping away at each other until they collapse entirely, but this time Hogg delves a bit deeper into mood and genre than before, adopting the aesthetics of a BBC made-for-TV 80s ghost story. Like her work from The Souvenir onwards, it’s a gorgeous sight to behold, and while it may feel slight for less patient viewers, Hogg gives her acolytes another reason to treasure the delicate observatory powers of her camera.

The Eternal Daughter had its UK premiere at London Film Festival, and screens again on 7 Oct; UK release date tbc