Cinematic Ode to Women: A Review of The Eternal Daughter and Tar


The Eternal Daughter: Returning to a hotel now haunted by its mysterious past, an artist and her elderly mother confront long-buried secrets in their former family home.

Dark and a strong sense of foreboding is the mood of Joanna Hogg’s latest gothic mystery drama ‘The Eternal Daughter’. Although slow-paced, the film’s uncanny and unexplained elements keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, eagerly anticipating the next reveal. The cold winds, an isolated sombre mansion converted to a hotel with no occupants, the dour faced, stiletto-heeled receptionist and bellowing, fading drapes work effectively to create the perfect ambience for the inexplicable ongoings. The charming pastel wallpaper, now unheard of hot water bottle, pretty pill-boxes, marmalade-on-toast and dressing-up for dinner tradition that Julie and her mother follow, provide the essential British setting and certainly warmed my heart.

Standing-out amidst the thick of shadows and mist is Tilda Swinton’s statuesque performance who fabulously doubles up as Julie, the enigmatic film-maker and her ageing mother, Rosalind. Her nuanced performance and understated, chic style makes this movie a definite watch. Experience the tender mother-daughter relationship and mystery unravel at a leisurely pace, but be careful not to miss the subtle gestures which hint at the unexpected ending. Noir enthusiasts, in particular, should not overlook this captivating film.

Tar: A convincing portrayal of narcissism, power and predation

Is Lydia Tar, the magnificent symphony maestro in Todd Field’s striking film, a feminist or megalomaniac? Is it pure power-play or predatory behaviour in the veins of the ingenuous conductor who is all set to launch her book? Field’s captivating film compels the audience to think about numerous themes – gender politics, power, feminism and manipulation. Lydia Tar is a woman extraordinaire, a brilliant musician with the esteemed Berlin Philharmonic, a feminist without “femininity”. In the initial scenes, the spectator is drawn into Tar’s esoteric life with masculine suits handmade at high-end ateliers, fine pin-striped fabrics worn with pristine white shirts and black flat shoes. Her persona is sans-makeup, stark clear except the mid-length swept-back hair. The impression one gets is of a woman who does not wish to appear frivolous, a woman revered in the talented but competitive world of composers, a position held predominantly by men. Her arrogance, however, is apparent as she admonishes and humiliates a young pan-gender student who voices his disenchantment with Bach.

Lydia Tar’s domineering and manipulative persona is revealed when she insists that the ageing Sebastien, the manager of the group, retire and be replaced by a younger person. When Tek tries to question Tar, she accuses him of misogyny and toxicity. This could be seen as a warning, as Tar’s seemingly perfect world is soon revealed to be filled with allegations of sexual misconduct. The hidden, predatory side of Tar is revealed as fragments of her past involving a now-deceased Krista start to emerge and cloud her indestructible life with despair and paranoia. As the stark, polished settings of the stage and Tar’s luxurious home are juxtaposed with the graffiti-covered roads of Berlin, and a crowded, humid Philippines; the disgraced composer quits the orchestra and shifts to a new role. Watch out for the twist in the end! The grim, glaring yet eerie setting of participants wearing wild masks and headgear waiting for the game to begin, gives an unsettling aura and one wonders if this is in fact reality or a figment of Tar’s imagination as she faces her fall from grace. Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of the overpowering but conflicted Lydia Tar is pure perfection as she proves to be one of Hollywood’s best, yet again!


anonymous female Author

Tanu Sood

Tanu is an apparel merchandising professional, having worked in the apparel industry for ten years. She also teaches students of fashion business, aspects of marketing and merchandising. She enjoys reading, watching movies, doing graphics and is drawn to the mystical world of tarot. She looks forward to reading The Blahcksheep for its unbiased, forthright and unusual content.

 

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