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EILEEN (2023)

Release Date: 12/08/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Drama. Mystery. Thriller.

Studio: Neon.

[Seen for BFI London Film Festival 2023]

"A woman's friendship with a new co-worker at the prison facility where she works takes a sinister turn." 


Eileen is based on the 2015 novel of the same name and packs quite a bit of drama into a relatively short runtime. Director William Oldroyd certainly has all the tools he needed to craft a stellar neo-noir, namely the talents of Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie as his two leads. The actresses give it their all, though I’m not convinced that what perhaps made a great read translates well onto the screen.


McKenzie stars in the film’s titular role as a 20-something woman living a rather depressing life with her alcoholic father. Her only escape is her drag of a day job at the local prison, where we are, um, treated to her daydreams about the young inmates. Everything changes for Eileen when the prison hires a new counselor named Rebecca (Hathaway) whose beauty, confidence and quiet intrigue attracts Eileen like a moth to a flame.


At first, the relationship seems to be a positive one. Rebecca urges Eileen to channel a femininity and charm she never knew she had. But a late-night rendezvous or two and workday pep talks quickly become toxic and lead down a path that may be detrimental – and even deadly.


Eileen is set in 1960s Boston and is at times an intoxicating time warp. I am nothing if not blown away at how Anne Hathaway seems to get more talented and gorgeous with age. The build-up is intense, where Eileen falls flat is bringing the drama to a full boil. The film’s ambiguous ending left me relieved that it was over instead of wanting more, and I would have loved the movie to lay off the raunch and lean into its psychological aspects. Eileen has its merits, but McKenzie and Hathaway deserve better than this half-baked drama.


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