‘Eileen’ Review – Anne Hathaway & Thomasin McKenzie Film Defies Expectations

The Big Picture

  • Eileen
    is an physical exercise in restraint, continuously defying the audience’s expectations and deviating from presumptions.
  • The film explores the restrictions placed on ladies in the previous and their fight against societal limitations.
  • The strength of
    lies in its performances and the feelings it elicits, generating it worth watching in spite of its bare-bones story.

This evaluation was initially portion of our coverage for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

Eileen, the initial film from William Oldroyd given that 2016’s Lady Macbeth created Florence Pugh a star, is much more defined by what it is not than what it is. Like his preceding film, Eileen is an physical exercise in restraint, as this story, primarily based on Ottessa Moshfegh’s book of the very same name and with a screenplay written by Moshfegh and Luke Goebel, zigs exactly where you anticipate it to zag, often defying the audience’s expectations. What starts as an nearly Carol-esque story of forbidden appreciate in the 1960s, swerves into one thing far much more unforeseen. Eileen knows exactly where you believe it is heading, and decides to deviate from the presumptions.


A woman’s friendship with a new co-worker at the prison facility exactly where she functions requires a sinister turn.

Release Date
December 8, 2023

William Oldroyd

97 minutes

Main Genre

Luke Goebel , Ottessa Moshfegh

What Is ‘Eileen’ About?

Thomasin McKenzie stars as Eileen, who functions at a prison in 1960s Massachusetts, and lives with her alcoholic ex-cop father (Shea Whigham), who finds a way to insult her in the most cutting way with just about every interaction. Eileen is also extremely lonely, as the initial time we meet her, she’s watching a young couple fool about in a vehicle. She does not just want a person who understands her, she also deeply desires the physical elements that come with it. Her life has turn into mundane: go to her prison job, bring dad dwelling a bottle of booze, come dwelling, get berated by her dad, and do it all more than once more the subsequent day.

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But Eileen could possibly have located what she’s searching for in Dr. Rebecca St. John (Anne Hathaway), a prison psychologist who thinks differently from the rest of the facility, and befriends Eileen, opening her up much more than the meek individual she’s seemed to be. In one particular beautifully structured scene, with beautiful cinematography from Ari Wegner (The Wonder, The Power of the Dog), Eileen and Dr. St. John go out to a bar, bathed in red neon light, as they understand much more about each and every other, and determine to dance with each and every other. As they get pleasure from each and every other’s corporation, a man tries to reduce in, which causes the fantastic medical professional to knock the man on his ass, as she’s not prepared to place up with nonsense like this. Without straight telling us, Oldroyd tells us a lot about the medical professional, a lady shrouded in secrecy, but can clearly take care of herself when going for what she desires.

Like Lady Macbeth, Eileen is also about the restrictions place on ladies in the previous, and fighting against such limitations, as each Eileen and Dr. St. John let themselves to embrace their happiness, in spite of the planet about them. We also are becoming told a story of generational trauma, be it by means of Eileen often obtaining insulted by her father, or a young prisoner who has one thing to hide. And but, this is not what Eileen is about—well, at least completely. Moshfegh’s story requires a sharp proper turn when it is least anticipated, opening this story up and expanding what is definitely going on in a fascinating way. Yet this shift tends to make excellent sense in context, and even though it could possibly take the audience by surprise, after the dust settles, the decision tends to make excellent sense.

McKenzie and Hathaway Have a Delightful Dynamic in ‘Eileen’

Anne Hathaway talking to Thomasin McKenzie in an alleyway in Eileen
Image through NEON

McKenzie plays the timid Eileen in an understated, meek way, but given that we see her when no one particular else does, we know that there is much more that meets the eye with her character. It’s specifically enjoyable to watch McKenzie play off Hathaway’s Dr. St. John, a character who dominates just about every area she’s in, and knows completely who she is, even if the characters about her see her as a mystery. Also excellent is Whigham, who is defiantly awful in just about every scene, a continuous supply of insults and common meanness, to a point that it is shocking that Eileen has been in a position to place up with him for so lengthy. And even though she only gets one particular significant scene, Marin Ireland could possibly have the most impactful moment in the complete film, as a mother who feels trapped by her selections inside her household. Ireland’s scene is very dark, but speaks to the confines that all the significant female characters really feel in this universe.

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But beyond this attractive recreation of the 1960s and these performances, Eileen’s strength comes in its screenplay. Like Moshfegh and Goebel’s screenplay for final year’s Causeway, there is not a rush to Eileen, as we normally sit with these characters, and watch them figure out their scenarios. For instance, in one particular sequence exactly where Eileen comes more than to Dr. St. John’s residence for Christmas Eve, the camera normally sits back and makes it possible for us to bathe in the insecurities, uncertainties, and worries that have overcome these ladies in this moment. And even though Eileen is mainly a quiet addition to each and every scene, swift fantasy sequences show the racing thoughts of this lady who is probably as well retired to her life to stick to by means of on these concepts.

Yet what tends to make the Moshfegh and Goebel’s screenplay and Oldyroyd’s directing perform so effectively is how completely it handles the shifts and tones that could’ve created this film go off the rails. What starts as a prospective romance all of a sudden becomes an unexpected thriller, pulling the rug out from the audience. Yet this switch does not totally really feel out of left field, and it only improves the intensity and stakes of the feasible romance at hand. It’s nearly as if Eileen knows that audiences have noticed this sort of unrequited appreciate story set throughout this period ahead of, and desires to totally upend their expectations by throwing them into this totally new path. It’s a daring decision and one particular that in the end functions in the film’s favor.

However, Eileen‘s conclusion could possibly also throw off audiences, as it appears like this story gets out proper when the stakes are upped and the story is kicking in. While the narrative sticks comparatively close to Moshfegh’s original book, this ending nearly feels like a blunt decision, as opposed to what could possibly be the much more logical one particular. Yet, as is correct for this complete film, Eileen continues to subvert expectations till the incredibly finish, deciding to cease when it feels like the story could possibly just be beginning.

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‘Eileen’ Is Best in the Emotions It Teases Out

Since watching Eileen at final year’s Sundance, what has stuck with me is not the story—which, once more, does not definitely get going in any significant way till the third act—but rather, the performances that exist much more as sturdy feelings rather than living, breathing characters. Whether it is Whigham’s acidic father, the desperation coming from Ireland, the easygoing sensuality of Hathaway, or the nervous anxiousness of McKenzie. The story itself could possibly be bare-bones, but it is how these major feelings play off each and every other that tends to make Eileen worth watching, specifically given that absolutely everyone appears at odds in some way or a different. And even though Moshfegh’s book ends in a similarly abrupt way as the film does, it is challenging to want to see these characters continue by means of the tribulations that the conclusion sets up.

Eileen is an intriguing small story that shifts and alters the additional it goes, playing with the audience, and providing them the opposite of what they’re expecting. It is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea—especially these who believe they know precisely what they are obtaining themselves into—but Eileen is an admirable bit of defiance that is a joy to reside inside for 90 minutes.

Eileen 2023 Film Poster



Eileen is a film that defies expectations just as it showcases the excellent chemistry involving Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie.


  • The film requires a important proper turn when you least anticipate it to, opening up the story and generating almost everything much more fascinating.
  • McKenzie is in a position to capture the two sides of her character in a definitely enjoyable way, playing off of an equally excellent Hathaway completely.
  • Marin Ireland comes in for what is only a single scene that nevertheless leaves a significant mark on the entire knowledge.

  • Some of the story is rather bare-bones.

Eileen is now offered to stream on Hulu in the U.S.


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