Engaging mother-and-daughter psychological drama
- The Eternal Daughter review by PD
Joanna Hogg's latest is very much a minor piece compared to her usual fayre, but is still engaging, mainly because of Tilda Swinton's 'double' performance both as filmmaker Julie and her aging mother Rosalind. The setting is a remote Welsh hotel which used to belong to Rosalind’s aunt Jocelyn, and where Rosalind stayed at various points during her past, and as with “The Souvenir,” Hogg’s outstanding two-part meta-textual memoir, the film is as much about an artist’s fickle relationship with her own creativity — and her struggle with the ethics of co-opting stories that do not necessarily belong to her — as it is about any interpersonal bond. However, here the film's power is perhaps diminished rather than enhanced by the (rather cliched) 'haunted house' motifs, with the result that after a while it starts to feel like an unnecessarily drawn-out wait for a 'big reveal' that you can see coming from a mile off. Nevertheless, there's still much to enjoy - as well as Swinton, there's a wonderfully surly, border-line hostile hotel receptionist (a pitch-perfect Carly-Sophia Davis), who couldn’t more obviously care less about Julie’s quite reasonable requests, and the sense of entrapment in pragmatic English reserve, where mother and daughter exchange halting pleasantries and little acts of care by day, while Julie roams the maze-like corridors and the misty grounds of the hotel by night, is nicely done. In its best moments, including an excruciating passive-aggressive/affectionate-aggravated birthday dinner, and a couple of exchanges with the hotel’s genial concierge Bill, there is some good insights into the vast and yawning gulf between the conversations we would like to have with our mothers and daughters, and the ones we actually end up having. Sometimes, no matter how resolved you are to reach down into the inexpressibly profound depths of your mutual love, guilt and remorse, all you can ever actually dredge up is some comment about the niceness of the marmalade or prettiness of the wrapping paper. Dog-lovers' hearts will also melt over the film’s most important supporting actor: Louis, Rosalind’s faithful spaniel, who steals whole scenes. Much more to come from Hogg, I hope.
0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.