Opening 14 Dec 2023
The first two acts of Eileen are promising, set against the backdrop of a 1960s Massachusetts boys’ juvenile detention center, with strong performances from Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie. The chemistry between the two female leads and the exploration of Eileen's depressing home life initially keep the audience wanting more.
However, the film takes a strange turn in its third act, abandoning the psychosexual dynamic that had been simmering. The connection between the young juvenile detention officer Eileen (Thomasin McKenzie) and the alluring new psychiatrist Rebecca (Anne Hathaway) somehow devolves into a thinly developed crime plot that feels random and out of place.
Director William Oldroyd, perhaps best known for Lady Macbeth (2016), seems unsure of how to handle the original book material from author Ottessa Moshfegh, resulting in incongruent stylistic choices that disrupt the film's overall coherence. Bursts of dramatic music and disturbing daydream sequences that include shooting Eileen’s alcoholic father (Shea Whigham) are perfect examples of this.
Despite the strong acting from McKenzie and Hathaway, Eileen ultimately fails to deliver on its early promise, leaving the audience with a sense of missed opportunities and unexplored depths. (Erin Huebscher)