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In order to fully immerse herself and her cast in the past she was attempting to recreate, Joanna Hogg transported goods into the “set” for her films “The Souvenir” and “The Souvenir Part II,” using her own furnishings for Julie’s apartment. In Hogg’s hands, things are never just things; they are talismans or, more appropriately, souvenirs. They create tiny openings into the unconscious. The items could be considered Proustian, although Marcel Proust was only describing something we all encounter. You hear a little musical passage that immediately transports you back to middle school. The moment you take a bite of a cinnamon cookie, you are eight years old and back in your grandmother’s kitchen. It’s very potent. Hogg’s art is meticulous in an understated way, but every decision she takes is meant to stimulate slack associations.
Even though the scene and the mood have changed, Hogg is still writing in a very intimate, even autobiographical, manner in “The Eternal Daughter.” Middle-aged Julie (Tilda Swinton) visits her elderly mother (also Tilda Swinton) at a large country house, like Gosford Park or Downton Abbey, though “Manderley” could be a better comparison given the Gothic-inspired atmosphere. There are a few risks associated with the trip. The Julie from “The Souvenir” is a filmmaker who is attempting to write a movie about Rosalind, her mother. Rosalind responds to Julie’s queries as she covertly activates her voice recorder. Rosalind was sent to this estate as a child to get away from the Blitz. Rosalind describes to Julie what was there in the past as her recollections from 60 or 70 years ago are superimposed over the present. Time is permeable; it is not linear. Every day, Julie finds a peaceful spot to work, but she feels unfocused and uneasy.
The most terrifying aspect about Soughton Hall, where the movie was filmed, is the Hall itself. Rosalind and Julie seem to be the sole visitors. The building groans and creaks. In the wind, windows rattle. Children are yelling or a woman appears to be sobbing in another location. Julie is fidgety. She struggles to fall asleep. She prowls around the property like a ghost. The sad delusion that fog and mist billow across the screen underlies the entire movie. The tall trees move about in the wind. Louie, Rosalind’s dog, occasionally barks or scratches at the door. There is something outside. or in this. Whatever the case, Julie is alarmed.
Julie feels morally conflicted about photographing her mother because it has a vampire-like quality. She is also a little shocked and appalled to hear Rosalind, who is generally so upbeat and cheerful, reveal painful recollections. They have a deeply entwined relationship—one that is even catched. Julie doesn’t have any biological children. Perhaps unlike other grownups, she never “broke out” into her own life. She wants her mum to enjoy herself. What is this, though? After a miscarriage, is Rosalind voicing her regrets about being “not very polite” to her husband? The idea that her mother is carrying sorrow breaks Julie.
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Infrequently prickly interactions with the receptionist (a very funny Carly-Sophia Davies, who perfectly captures the sullen “I’ll just do the bare minimum” employee) and little “happens,” what does is repetitive: sleep-deprived Julie wandering around, meals with mother, attempting to get cell service out on the lawn, and frequent prickly interactions with the receptionist. A groundskeeper, played by Joseph Mydell, emerges one night out of nowhere. Julie appreciates his kindness and finds solace in his presence. Rosalind as well. However, the whole atmosphere is so intense that comparisons to “The Shining” are inevitable. Any of this is it real?
Hogg reconnected with “Archipelago” and “Exhibition” cinematographer Ed Rutherford. In Hogg’s movies, architecture and room arrangements are usually prominent, but in “Exhibition,” they are even more so. Although Hogg’s investigation of the place was psychological, the setting was cinematic. The Eternal Daughter,” which is all about those stairways, halls, dark windows, busy wallpaper, and the claustrophobia, so strange in a mansion so huge, is another example of Rutherford’s style at work. Jovan Ajder, who oversaw the sound for “The Souvenir,” was also happy to see Hogg again. With all those creaks, moans, and howls, “The Eternal Daughter” has a tremendously elaborate sound design. (Ajder oversaw the “Aftersun” sound design by Charlotte Wells, which was emotionally complex.)
The Eternal Daughter Quiz
The method used by Joanna Hogg’s work is association. Her sensibility is Modernist. Despite this, her work doesn’t seem cloned or similar to other works. Her associations aren’t expressed in sloppy shorthand. She interjects associations into the narrative in the form of music, books, and objects. Perhaps what I notice is not what Hogg intended, but discovering these associations is one of the things that makes his work so enjoyable. As an illustration, in one scenario, Julie and Rosalind are reading in their separate beds while the house squeaks and groans all around them. Rudyard Kipling’s incredibly moving semi-autobiographical tale They, about a man who unexpectedly stumbles across a country estate, is being read by Julie. There is a mother and two kids living there. Although he finds them endearing, something is off. (Allusions to “The Others”) Similar to how Fragonard’s artwork in “The Souvenir” functions, so does Kipling’s tale. Your connection to the tale being presented is strengthened by the way it swirls around beneath the text.
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Stylistics is another illustration of Hogg’s associative methodology. The nighttime scenes dominate “The Eternal Daughter.” Despite the darkness, a sickly greenish dreamy light emanates from it. Green light emanates from the estate’s windows. It has an otherworldly effect. It took me a moment to see the connection between this color and the movie “Vertigo,” which stars Kim Novak in a dual part and is another cathectic relationship drama (just as Swinton plays a dual role). The first line of Sylvia Plath’s dark Gothic poem The Moon and the Yew Tree, “This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary,” comes to me when I see the light (another association).
Hogg’s artwork occasionally refers to itself, and the same symbols keep popping up. Mirrors, doorways, hallways, and persons moving in and out of the frame all catch her attention. Although these are “tics,” they have a genuine origin. Another thing is that our influences are part of who we are; they are ingrained in our psyches, and it can be challenging to distinguish where one influence ends and another begins. In her early films, when the camera is largely static and the aesthetic is meticulous and controlled, Hogg’s love of “old” movies, such as classic Hollywood, musicals, noirs, and Technicolor extravaganzas, is not immediately apparent. However, if you look back to Hogg’s debut film, the short “Caprice” (starring a young Tilda Swinton), where a woman falls down a rabbit hole of advertisements and allures, complete with a fully produced music video, you can see how she worked with her own influences and filtered them through her own sensibility. Due of this, she enjoys her employment.
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More than anything else, “The Eternal Daughter” is about a state of mind. Tilda Swinton’s subtle, precise dual performance is what gives the impression that she is both Julie and Rosalind. Hogg doesn’t utilize deceptive photography to get them both in the picture at once. Julie and Rosalind are seen talking to each other back and forth on camera. When they do, at last, show up together, it’s an indication that the situation is about to enter its conclusion.
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The original draft or sketch of “The Eternal Daughter” has the feel of a finished product. Perhaps Julie’s problems to even compose an outline on-screen are a reflection of this. However, Hogg’s outlines are more intriguing than other authors’ finished works. There is constantly a lot to consider.
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