The Eternal Daughter (2022) – Film Review

The Eternal Daughter Film Review

Director: Joanna Hogg
Cast: Tilda Swinton, August Joshi
Certificate: 12A

By Sarah Morgan

Sometimes less is more, but that’s not the case with Tilda Swinton. The Oscar-winning thespian is always the best thing about any film she appears in, from low-budget passion projects to Hollywood movies.

Her latest production falls firmly in the former category rather than the latter, but it contains more Swinton than we’re used to because she takes on two roles. Lucky us.

The Eternal Daughter Film ReviewThe Eternal Daughter is the brainchild of her friend, writer and director Joanna Hogg. They first met at school at the age of 10 and have worked together several times since, most notably on 2019’s The Souvenir and its sequel, released two years later.

“Imperious, immaculate form”

Both films were semi-autobiographical affairs for Hogg. They saw Swinton play Rosalind, the mother of the main character, Julie, portrayed by Swinton’s real-life daughter, Honor Swinton Byrne. Older versions of the characters take centre stage in The Eternal Daughter, this time with Swinton – on imperious, immaculate form – tackling them both.

Julie, a film-maker, has taken her ageing mother Rosalind and her beloved springer spaniel Louis for a weekend mini-break at a hotel in a remote country house that seems to be perennially shrouded in mist. It’s a place Rosalind often visited as a child when it was a family home, and she remembers various people and events as time passes.

Julie hopes to use some of the reminiscences in a screenplay for a film she’s planning to make about her mother. However, poor sleep, strange goings-on, an odd face at the window and the puzzling behaviour of some of the staff put her off her stride.

And that’s about all I feel comfortable relating about the plot. Anything else would give too much away and spoil matters for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. What I will say is it’s a mysterious, thought-provoking film that’s been haunting me since I watched it a couple of days ago. I decided to wait a while to process my thoughts before committing them to a review, and even now I’m slightly befuddled by it all.

Not that this is a bad thing – it proves how bewitching Hogg’s project is; I would even go so far as to say it’s her most impressive work to date.

The Eternal Daughter Film Review


Martin Scorsese, who executive produced both Souvenir films and The Eternal Daughter (it was he who encouraged her to make a ghost story, eventually sending her several classic examples to read in an attempt to inspire her), says that her movies contain implosions rather than explosions, and that’s certainly the case here; everything is restrained and confined, with the setting almost a character itself.

I’m hoping Scorsese inspires more from Hogg, because he clearly understands where her strengths lie. And if she can persuade Tilda Swinton to appear in it, I’ll be very happy indeed. They might want to ditch Louis the dog though – he’s Swinton’s real-life canine companion, and he almost steals the entire show.

Don’t miss the disc’s packed special features section either, which includes fascinating interviews with Hogg and Swinton.

Special features:
  • Presented in High Definition
  • Audio commentary by director Joanna Hogg and production designer Stéphane Collonge
  • Présages (2023, 11 mins): a short film by Joanna Hogg produced in 2023 for the Centre Pompidou’s ‘Où en êtes-vous?’ collection
  • Joanna Hogg in Conversation (2023, 76 mins): the filmmaker discusses her career with Jason Wood
  • Q&A with Joanna Hogg and Tilda Swinton (2023, 35 mins): the writer-director and the star talk to Francine Stock about their latest collaboration
  • Original UK trailer
  • First pressing only Illustrated booklet with essays by Catherine Bray and Hannah Strong, and an introduction and interview with Joanna Hogg by Roger Luckhurst re-printed from Sight and Sound, December 2023; notes on the special features and credits
The Eternal Daughter is released on Blu-ray by the BFI

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.