Eileen review: dark psychological chills and thrills

Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie in Eileen

Eileen is a disconcerting psychological drama featuring stellar performances from Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie. These are dark characters who exist in a dreary world. Their story is not a happy one and the ending is inconclusive.

Eileen (Thomasin McKenzie) works in a boys’ prison. She keeps her drunk father (an excellent Shea Whigham) supplied with liquor. He’s the former police chief and is prone to waving his gun around the neighborhood while dressed in a bathrobe when he’s been drinking – which is always.

Thomasin McKenzie in Eileen

Life for the two of them is an unpleasant and grim endless repeat of the same nothing days.

Anne Hathaway in Eileen

Then the prison gets a new psychologist, Rebecca (Anne Hathaway). She is beautiful and glamorous, a stunning peacock in a flock of pigeon gray. Eileen is smitten immediately.

If you’ve watched the Rorschach test of a trailer you can see the moment when Eileen’s world changes at the mere sight of Rebecca. And you can see the moment when Rebecca clocks Eileen and realizes she can be useful.

Eileen has many problems. She only wears her recently deceased mother’s clothes. She gorges on sugar. She stashes her money in a cookie tin and refuses to fix her car, which smokes. She touches herself and snaps in and out of sexual fantasies in ways that seem real until they are over. In this film, directed by William Oldroyd, it can be hard to tell immediately what is real and what isn’t.

Rebecca befriends Eileen with a seductive dance, alcohol and cigarettes. They become close. Rebecca confides in Eileen. Eileen preens under the attention.

Rebecca solicits Eileen’s help with the case of one of the boys in the prison who stabbed his father multiple times. There’s a brilliant scene with the boy’s depraved mother (Marin Ireland) that will knock your socks off. It reveals everything about Eileen, about Rebecca, and about the boy’s mother. Powerful work from all three actors.

Quickly after that the film ends with an open ended final scene that isn’t satisfying or conclusive. It leaves the story behind, unfinished. The ending isn’t about consequences, it’s about setting yourself loose.

Frustrating finish or not, the character revelations for both Eileen and Rebecca in this film are well done and deeply disturbing. This movie is meant to make you uncomfortable.

If it sounds like a film you want to try, you can stream it on Hulu.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
WordPress Cookie Notice by Real Cookie Banner