Honest Review of ‘Eileen’: A Daringly Provocative Film Starring Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway
After his debut movie, the scathingly indecorous Victorian tragedy Lady Macbeth (2016), audiences knew not to expect the ordinary from William Oldroyd’s highly anticipated second feature. The novel Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh, which the British director adapts for his debut, combines an irresistible fascination with difficult women prone to evil impulses with the author’s own work. You can find more information about the film in detail.
It’s a tour de force for the cast, led by Thomasin McKenzie, and proof that Oldroyd hasn’t lost his unsettling touch in the seven years since his last film. The film is a blackly humorous riff on film noir, and you can tell from the opening notes of Richard Reed Perry’s score that it’s heading for some very dark and doomy places. 24-year-old Eileen lives with her father, a former police captain (Shea Whigham), who has descended into angry, drunken dementia since the death of Eileen’s mother. One of his daughters still in contact with him, Eileen, is the victim of brutal verbal abuse cloaked as casual conversation. He explains to her that some people are just like fictional characters whose lives you follow as they make crucial choices on the big screen.
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Honest Review of the Film
Different sources say that Massive dark chords and a sight of fog drifting in signal the beginning of the film, setting the tone for a horror movie. At first, it seems like we’re watching a character study of a severely shy young woman whose only real action is fantasizing about having sex with a guard against the large window in her prison cell. It’s obvious, though, that this isn’t just another Sundance drama about a lonesome young lady discovering her courage. The picture is far more combative than that, with music that foreshadows impending tension. And McKenzie suggests that despite Eileen’s seeming timidity, we may be underestimating her; perhaps she is, in fact, implacable. When a new psychologist joins the team, her true identity begins to emerge.
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The film is based on the 2015 novel by Ottessa Moshfegh, and Moshfegh and Luke Goebel wrote the screenplay. The film was set in 1964, so when a new female prison psychologist, Rebecca, is brought in, the jail administration reacts with not-so-thinly-veiled misogyny. The warden has announced: “Dr. Miss Rebecca St. John will be our new prison psychologist.” “She has recently graduated from Radcliffe with a Ph.D.” As portrayed by Anne Hathaway, Rebecca is a blonde bombshell who is always wiser than the men around her. She also knows how to handle a cigarette, wield a martini glass, and deck a man who tries to make advances.
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Naturally, Eileen is enamored, and in their few discussions, Rebecca recognizes that Eileen can be somewhat sarcastic despite her timid demeanor and squeaky voice (now sporting a changeable Boston accent). Eileen gets a new haircut and shaves her legs before meeting Rebecca for drinks, and she even makes an attempt to light up when Rebecca does. Eileen says, “Sorry, I don’t normally smoke,” while coughing violently. “Bad routine. Rebecca comments, “That’s why I appreciate it; it reminds me that we’re very much in the realm of noir.” However, this is not your classic noir; things heat up between Eileen and Rebecca. “You look like a girl out of a Dutch painting,” Rebecca remarks to you.You’ve got a rugged good looks about you. To be simple but engaging. Your dreams are incredible, I just know it. To the delight of the audience, her dreams occasionally come to life, proving that she does, in fact, have a vivid imagination.
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McKenzie reveals that Eileen is a young woman with dark and scary depths, but the film only drops suggestions until the two meet for Christmas Eve dinner, and everything changes with a single phrase. The Ari Wegner-directed and -shot “Eileen” isn’t interested in preaching to its female audience. Dark, disturbed, and beautifully contradictory characters acting in spectacularly twisted ways are something Oldroyd instead revels in. Much like the protagonist, the picture sneaked up on the Sundance crowd and kicked them in the teeth.