• Festivals

TIFF 2022: “The Eternal Daughter”

The Eternal Daughter stars the inimitable three-time Golden Globe-nominated actor Tilda Swinton, who takes on dual roles in this mother-daughter horror story about the relationship between Julie Hart, a filmmaker, and her aging mother, Rosalind. Not to be forgotten, Rosalind’s dog, Louis, is played by Swinton’s own dog, also named Louis.

Written and directed by Joanna Hogg, known for her work on The Souvenir (2019) and The Souvenir Part II (2021), The Eternal Daughter isn’t a traditional sequel to those films, but it does complete the story. Swinton takes over the same role of Julie that her daughter, Honor Swinton Byrne, originated in The Souvenir I and II. At the same time, she also reprises her role as Rosalind, whom she portrayed in those stories. Hogg explains, “I would say it’s definitely not a trilogy, though there is a relationship [between the films]. There’s no getting away from that. But it’s not the next episode.”


In The Eternal Daughter, Julie, now an accomplished filmmaker, is having difficulties beginning her next film. Under the guise of a mother-daughter trip to celebrate Rosalind’s birthday, Julie books a hotel in Wales for them. But this isn’t merely any hotel. The Gothic establishment was formerly a mansion that belonged to Rosalind’s aunt Jocelyn, whom Rosalind would visit as a child. While Rosalind’s memories come back to life during the course of their stay, Julie surreptitiously records their conversations in the hopes of inspiring her next screenplay.

Hogg and Swinton are present at Toronto International Film Festival. During the Q & A after the screening, Hogg explains the genesis of the story.

“I’d started thinking about a story between a mother and daughter who go away and stay in a hotel. I felt at the time I couldn’t make this film based on my relationship with my mother. I felt too bad and didn’t want to upset her,” she says. “Then, many years later, we were making The Souvenirs and Rosalind had such a strong impression on us all. Tilda’s rendition of Rosalind was so interesting and so related to both our mothers, in a way. Often I will make a film and there’s something I take from the previous film into the next film. Rosalind came forward into The Eternal Daughter and Tilda came into the picture very sharply, not just as one character but two,” she explains. “Actually, it was Tilda’s very brilliant decision to play both parts.”

Even for the most seasoned of actors, such as the Oscar-winning Swinton (a best supporting actress in 2008 for Michael Clayton), playing dual roles brings unique challenges.

“Well, to be honest, it’s not so much challenging as a sort of grace, really. Joanna and I have known each other since we were 10,” explains Swinton. “We are, literally, the oldest of friends. I’ve known her longer than anyone that I’m not related to by blood. I suppose, in one way or another, we’ve been talking forever about our relationship with our mothers.”

The Souvenirs didn’t satiate that, didn’t scratch the itch enough for us. But, when we started making this film, or even talking about it to a certain extent, I was always going to play Julie. We were thinking of an older person to play Rosalind. It was me who was quite greedy. I was really in love with Rosalind and I had really loved playing her.” She pauses. “It was challenging but in a lovely problem-solving way.”