A multitasking prodigy, Tilda Swinton may be one of the few actresses alive who risks being lazy by playing just one character in a movie. Hello, the cunning of identical twins as played out in Caesar. and Okja, his dish. Even more impressive were the three roles he played in the latest iteration of Suspiria, complete with some impressive age prosthetics. I think Swinton will one day break her personal best in the 1992 indie sci-fi series Technolast, where she played four roles: a scientist and three cyborg clones of herself.
Before that is Eternal Daughter, a wonderfully mysterious haunted house film in which Swinton plays two women, director Julie and her mother Rosalind, who spend the December holidays in the remote Welsh countryside. Your destination is an old dilapidated hotel that emerges from the darkness in the first moments, like the Manderley or the Overlook or a scene from a 1950s Hammer horror film. It's an incredibly evocative setting, revealing dark corridors, dizzying staircases and hypnotic patterned wallpapers. most of which are tinged with a slightly greenish tinge, which can be a sure sign of a way out or something more dreamy. (Artist – Stefan Colonj.)
English writer/director Joanna Hogg has always been known for a sense of the wild, whether it's a fantastical island trip in the 2010 drama Archipelago or the meticulous restoration of her flat in her latest 1980s London masterpiece , Souvenir. (2019) and "Memories Part II" (2021). If you've seen any of them, you'll instantly recognize Rosalind Swinton, a few years older and with a Spanish voice, though she's as smartly dressed as ever. You will also discover that Julie, with her soulful warmth and elegant dark hair, represents the Ghost herself, and this interesting and haunting story is drawn from real life. But if "Eternal Daughter" is anything like a sequel memoir, it's also a more mysterious kind of movie memorabilia.
Traversing the garden of his memories, Hogg finds dark tents of unease and an almost supernatural omen. He also plays a dry comedy, which resonates even more in the silence and solemnity of his perfect image. The hotel, still a very dilapidated property as it was before the post-war reconstruction, groans and shakes under the weight of its many years. The air is cold, the service is colder, there is no Wi-Fi. Upon arrival, Julie is greeted by a warm hotel receptionist (a delightfully passive-aggressive Carly-Sophia Davis) who informs her that the double room she booked months ago is no longer available, not to mention that Julie and Rosalind are apparently single. hotel The Guests Well, them and Rosalind's loyal dog Louie (played by Swinton's spaniel, also named Louie).
But if no one else is home, how to explain the loud crash that disturbs Julia's night's sleep? Or the invisible intruder who sometimes opens his bedroom door, allowing Louie to escape. Is this just wind play, or is there something more sinister going on? By the way, don't worry too much about Louis. Hogg may have fun with the gruesome, but it's not one of those sadistic exercises where you bludgeon a pet to death. The creepy gothic atmosphere is softened by a playful touch. We are invited to immerse ourselves in the mist, moonlight and ominous music that accompanies Julie's walks through the hotel grounds and revel in the sheer fragility of Ed Rutherford's 16mm cinematography.
Swinton's casting is the boldest part of the film's magic, but also the most subtle. Working in his usual quiet and intimate style, Hogg does his trick with slyness. He rarely places Julie and Rosalind in the same frame, instead interrupting their conversation rhythmically mid-conversation. It's a technique that minimizes the need for digital retouching and exposure, and reminds us how much magic a skilled filmmaker can create on a limited budget.
Helle le Febvre's constant sharp movements also match the conversational rhythms of Julie and Rosalind, which to some ears may sound like naturally English content. These two are polite, indecisive and do not want to violate each other's offers. Every morning they start discussing their plans. Rosalind will spend the day in silence, Julie will go upstairs and try to write something, and they will both do everything possible to avoid a nice cousin from next door wanting to pay them a sum big. visit But the most sincere and touching conversations take place in the quiet dining room, where they gather in the evenings, choosing appetizers from a very limited menu and delicately dancing around pressing issues.
There is a mystery at the heart of this mother-daughter relationship, and the eternal daughter, despite her short time, is in no rush to reveal her secrets. Suffice it to say that it has to do with Rosalind's last visit to the area decades ago, when she was taken to the asylum during the war as a child. His memories of that time are an unexpected mix of the idyllic and the traumatic. They are also a possible artistic inspiration for Julia, who brings Rosalind back to this place with more than just a nostalgic vacation in mind.
What right does the narrator have to rely on someone else's experience? Hogg did not free Julie from this thorny issue in The Memorial, and here she again criticizes the character, and therefore herself. Julia's own doubts are revealed in the way she carefully turns on the recorder when Rosalind begins to remember her, and in the guilt she feels when her sensitive examination of her mother's memories turns disturbing. A way of interpreting the film's genre elements (the strange voices, the progressive constriction, the great loneliness, the often uncertain times of day, the clever use of mirrors to invert Julia's image) are indicative of this guilt. Julie is lost in the ethical and literal fog.
All of which might make Daughter Forever a dubious exercise in self-confidence, an apology for its existence. But the film is much more than that. Hog has written a moving tribute to his mother, full of soul and glowing with love. And in Swinton's brilliantly sculpted performances, he found something much deeper than mere trickery. Swinton's two faces suggest the strange, often clumsy transfer of identity that can occur between mothers and daughters over time. They also create the idea that to enter another's experience is to become yourself on some level, to participate with your body and soul.
This personal shoot is as much a glamorous creative session as it is a parlor trick. So I'm questioning your grip on reality, like Julie. The ghost delights in leading us down the garden path, not so literally as when the benevolent gardener (Joseph Middel) shows up one night to help Julie and, perhaps, Rosalind. At the same time, the director has more than an elaborate joke in mind, and when the fog lifts, which it eventually does, the pattern he uncovers takes on a beautiful, overwhelming clarity.
What seemed like one story suddenly becomes another before our eyes. And the atmosphere of emotional surveillance reveals, in retrospect, the deep, poignant feeling that had been there all along. Eternal Daughter is haunting, like the best ghost stories. Even the best love stories.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.