Review The Eternal Daughter by James Ellis

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Dir: Joanna Hogg. Certificate 12a, 96mins.

I took it in my stride that I had the ending of this film spoiled by ladies who had seen an earlier screening. Turns out The Eternal Daughter was secretly filmed during lockdown, another A24 flutter, they seem to be getting bigger and bigger.

Tilda Swinton is Julie Hart and her mother Rosalind, who arrive to an estate in North Wales, the former seeking script ideas, the latter to remember past trips to the place. As their holiday goes by, things are not what it seems for anyone involved, the hotel filled with mystery and secrets. Julie struggles with writer’s block during her stay and her mother recounts several deeply sad stories of her previous time there. Julie finds herself recording many conversations, desperate for ideas.

Hogg has honoured the tradition of the classic gothic, ghost story and has kept a lot of its trappings in the big, gloomy estate. It is more atmosphere, less spooks, with green lights, branchs scraping upon windows and eerie late night scuffling. The decent score features a flute heavy air, later revelled as a diagetic sound, related to a minor character in the film. The use of Bartók is effective, recounting The Shining in the chill factor. The beautiful spaniel in the film easily upstaged Tilda in either role, often crying and spread across the fine furnishings. Carly-Sophia Davies, who also introduced the film, plays a fed up receptionist, getting great bouts of attitude problems.

Some strange continuity errors appear baked into the film, Julie and Rosalind will be in their beds in one scene, only to be seen the next shot in the bed of the other. This, I can only assume ties into the reveal at the end. This film was spoilt for me, and I dont want to give it away. Knowing this plot twist made me focus more on aspects of The Eternal Daughter I wouldn’t have done, if not knowing. Aside from the strange continuity, you don’t pick up much in what the twist might be.

Having said this, I throughly enjoyed it’s humour, character development and brief run time.

The Eternal Daughter is out now on limited release. 

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