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Starring: Tilda Swinton, Carly-Sophia Davies, Zinnia Davies-Cooke, Joseph Mydell, Alfie Sankey-Green
OUR RATING: ★★★★☆
A24 mystery drama written and directed by Joanna Hogg. The Eternal Daughter (2022) centers on an artist and her elderly mother, Julie and Rosalind (Tilda Swinton), as they confront long-buried secrets when they return to a former family home, once a grand manor that has now become a hotel haunted by its mysterious past.
Taxi Driver: There was a picture of myself and my wife at the front of the hotel. And you could see just behind us, a figure of someone looking out of the window, staring at us. Really quite scary at the time.
Julie: Nobody you could account for?
Taxi Driver: Absolutely nobody.
Julie: Oh, my goodness.
Taxi Driver: And it turns out the room was empty at the time. So, I avoid the place on dark winter nights.
Julie: [as they arrive at the hotel] Mum, we’re here. We’ve arrived.
Receptionist: So, would you be happy to stay on the ground floor just for tonight?
Julie: No, I’m afraid not, because I reserved a first floor room.
Receptionist: Well I can’t put you in a room that I haven’t got.
Julie: There’s a lot of keys there.
Rosalind: Oh, it’s so good to be here. I remember the ceiling. And I think I was in that bed. My sister was in this one.
Julie: I had a very unsettled night. There was a sound. I’m sure other people have mentioned it to you. A banging of some kind. I imagine it was a window or…
Receptionist: Yeah. I mean, there’s no one staying above you.
Julie: Well, exactly. I can’t imagine anybody would have been staying in a room with that, because they wouldn’t have been able to sleep at all.
Julie: It felt repetitive, and, yeah, all night.
Receptionist: That’s strange, because nobody else has mentioned anything at all about any noise whatsoever.
Julie: I want us to do what you want.
Rosalind: [referring to her cousin] Oh, well I feel so awful to say it, but it’s not that I don’t want to see them. But I mean, we’re so cozy here, aren’t we?
Julie: Yeah. I mean it’s very selfish, but I was rather hoping we could be together.
Rosalind: If you can think of a nice way of saying it, I think it would be really wonderful if we could just be us.
Rosalind: Are we early or late? I mean, are we the only people staying here? Have you worked that out yet?
Julie: I know. I don’t know. There was no one here when I arrived.
Rosalind: Did you have a good day, darling?
Julie: Not great actually. Couldn’t really get started. I mean, I didn’t sleep for a start. And I don’t know. I don’t know. I feel a little unsettled.
Rosalind: [to Julie] It’s so lovely having you look after me like this, darling. And very spoiling. Isn’t it Louis? Isn’t it? Aren’t we having a lovely time?
Julie: Do you remember this room? Was it like this when you were here before?
Rosalind: Do you know, I was just thinking. I remember the fireplace very well. I remember being rather frightened of it actually, when I was… Yeah. I mean, it’s so funny isn’t it, to think that one would be frightened, but I… Although, I have happy memories of this room.
Julie: I feel so bad for bringing you here.
Rosalind: That’s what rooms do. They hold these stories. And we’re here now. And that was then. And there’s just this muddle in me, of when it is, exactly. That’s all.
Rosalind: I did have happy memories here. But I also had other memories here. I had all sorts of memories here. And they, you know, they’re all still alive.
Rosalind: I wanted to come. I’m so grateful to you for bringing me. This is a lovely thing for us to be here together.
Julie: I feel really bad for coming now.
Rosalind: It’s not your fault.
Julie: Mum, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.
Rosalind: Nothing’s your fault.
'That's what rooms do. They hold these stories.' - Rosalind (The Eternal Daughter) Click To Tweet
Rosalind: I don’t know. I mean, it’s not like any of us could have done anything to stop it. So you just have to take it, don’t you? You know, you can’t regret it, because you didn’t have any say in it. I mean, that’s what life’s like. Just, you know, you roll with the punches.
Julie: [over phone] I’m actually having a kind of bad day. I’m having doubts about the whole project. I don’t know, I just feel so guilty. I can’t really explain it. I mean, it’s got something to do with being here.
Bill: Are you alright?
Julie: Oh! I’m so sorry. My mother’s dog. He’s vanished. I don’t know where he’s gone.
Bill: [to Julie, referring to his late wife] I could have retired, but I decided to stay on. Pretty much because of my wife, and the memories that we have of working here. You might have heard me playing the flute. Something that I picked up shortly after she died. And so I sit in the office, or in the kitchen, and I play for her. Because I never played for her before. And so, it’s like a new chapter in our relationship.
Julie: I’m a filmmaker, and I came here with my mother to try and write a film about my mother and I. But not easy. I can’t even get started.
Bill: Why is that?
Julie: I think I’m not sure I feel I have a right to do such a thing. It feels like trespassing. It’s really difficult for me to think of her being sad. You know, I want her to be happy. I just want her to be happy all the time.
'That's what life's like. You roll with the punches.' - Rosalind (The Eternal Daughter) Click To Tweet
Bill: [to Julie] There are memories here that I have with my wife that are not happy. I make my rounds. And, of course that’s the time when memories flood back to me. And I make my rounds quietly in the evening. Through the building, and on the grounds. And I suppose it is a way of staying in touch with my wife. So I can understand you wanting to make a film about your mother to keep that sense of that relationship with her. It’s difficult, isn’t it?
Rosalind: [referring to Julie] And now she has her work. And she makes her films, and they are as time consuming, and as energy consuming, I would suggest, as as a child might be. Each one as they come along.
Rosalind: I mean, I’m sad for her that she doesn’t have a child, because I think she would have, well, I was going to say she would have been a wonderful mother. But the truth is, she is a wonderful mother. She has a great capacity for practical, the practical magic of love. You know, she does it well. And I’m, these days, very much the recipient. Well, I’ve always been the recipient. But particularly now that her father’s left us. She’s diligent to a degree.
Bill: And looks up to you.
Rosalind: Yes, she really does.
Rosalind: It’s just yesterday, after lunch, I dropped off, and I, it was like this kind of, I can’t really explain it. Sort of dread.
Julie: What kind of dread?
Rosalind: Being here. I mean, there’s no question there are, you know, all sorts of memories popping up. It’s inevitable I suppose. You know, even in this room. So many.
Julie: What sort of memories?
Rosalind: Well, I mean, you know, the longer we’re here, the more it comes back. You know, the times I’ve been here.
'I didn't get it right.' - Julie, 'You did everything right. You did.' - Bill (The Eternal Daughter) Click To Tweet
Julie: Happy Birthday, Mum.
Rosalind: To us.
Julie: I don’t have any hunger if you aren’t hungry. The second you tell me you’re hungry, and you want some food, I will be hungry for it. But if you’re not going to eat anything…
Rosalind: Oh, darling, don’t, just don’t push me. I’m not feeling very well.
Julie: [to Rosalind] What do you expect me to do when you say you’re not feeling well? It’s like a nightmare.
Julie: Mum, I don’t know how this happened. Well, how did… I just want you to be happy. I’m trying all the time to make you happy. I can’t keep guessing. Can’t you just tell me. You’re like a sort of mystery person to me. And I’ve spent all my life doing this. Trying to figure out how to make you happy. And I have a life of my own. I have a husband, who I neglect completely, and I don’t have that much time left. And I don’t have a family beyond you. I don’t have any children. And I’m not going to have anybody to fuss over me when I’m your age.
Julie: I just, I didn’t get it right.
Bill: You did everything right. You did.
[we then see that Julie is at the hotel by herself and she’a been haunted by memories of Rosalind]
Receptionist: I just wanted to say before you go that I hope you’re okay.
Julie: Thank you. And I was going to say thank you for looking after me.
Julie: [as we see her leaving by herself and her mother’s dog, Louis] Thank you for all your kindness.
Bill: You’re most welcome.