Alex Heeney reviews Joanna Hogg’s film The Eternal Daughter is an unexpected sequel to her Souvenir duology: a ghost story exploring the creative process and a mother-daughter relationship.
Seventh Row has published the first full-length book on Joanna Hogg, Tour of Memories, focusing on the making of The Souvenir through interviews with Hogg and her team, as well as analysis of how the film fits into Hogg’s body of work. The book is essential reading as a companion to The Eternal Daughter.
Get your copy of the ebook Tour of Memories: The Creative Process behind Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir here.
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In Joanna Hogg’s film The Eternal Daughter, a now middle-aged Julie Hart (Tilda Swinton, taking on the role her daughter played in The Souvenir, which was a lightly fictionalised version of Hogg herself) and her mother, Rosalind (also Tilda Swinton, reprising her own Souvenir role with old age makeup), arrive at a remote, gargoyle-covered manor, in the dead of night, through a leafless December forest, surrounded by fog.
Formerly a family home belonging to Rosalind’s aunt, the building is now a hotel. Julie spends her days and nights listening to its unsettling creaks, howls, and bangs as she vacations with her mother. For Rosalind, though, coming back is an experience of old memories flooding back. She spent there as a girl and a young woman.
Exploring the mother-daughter relationship
The mother-daughter relationship in The Eternal Daughter was also secretly one of the best parts of The Souvenir. Rosalind is ageing now and needs constant care from Julie. But they don’t know how to talk to each other. As much as they love each other, there are some boundaries of understanding and experience they can’t breach. The relationship in The Eternal Daughter is much gentler and sweeter than the toxic familial bonds in Archipelago and Unrelated. It’s also less broken than the marriage in Exhibition between people who love each other but fail to communicate.
Listen to the podcast on The Souvenir Part I + II
Prepare for your viewing of The Eternal Daughter or deeper your appreciation of the film, by listening to our podcast review of Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir (then thought to be) duology.
Joanna Hogg has described The Souvenir Part II as a film about making The Souvenir. The Eternal Daughter feels like a film about the making of The Souvenir Part II. Hogg described The Souvenir films as an autobiographical “tour of memories”. The making of them even involved reconstructing the apartment she lived in at the time to bring back memories. As if learning from that experience, the Julie of The Eternal Daughter likewise brings her mother to an old familiar place. Julie hopes to trigger her mother’s memories and mine them for her next film. Each room they enter reminds Rosalind of an anecdote she would have never told in another situation. The Eternal Daughter is thus also a film about the creative process and the emotional turmoil it involves.
The Eternal Daughter is not Joanna Hogg’s first haunted house film. But it’s the first to openly lean into and acknowledge the conventions of gothic horror. Hogg’s second film, Archipelago, was about an adult family vacation at annual family rental home for a week. There, they have passive aggressive dinners and anger left unspoken. Exhibition is essentially a haunted house film, too. It’s about a couple whose relationship is faltering because of how the house’s architecture structures it. The soundscape of Exhibition is dominated by the unsettling sounds of the house. (Sound designer Jovan Ajder, who worked on all of Hogg’s films, is interviewed in our ebook Tour of memories).
Get the book about The Souvenir
Snag a copy of the first ever book to be written about British filmmaker Joanna Hogg and her process.
As a chronicle of the making of Hogg’s first Souvenir film, Tour of memories is a perfect companion to The Souvenir Part II, a film about the making of The Souvenir.