Eileen is an unrelenting and riveting psychological thriller, masterfully directed by William Oldroyd. The screenplay, co-written by author Ottessa Moshfegh and Luke Goebel, is chillingly honest and all-consuming. They offer an unsettling yet addictive narrative that deftly explores the terrifying and profound darkness of the human soul.
Thomasin McKenzie, playing Eileen Dunlop, commands the audience’s attention from the opening scene with a hauntingly brilliant performance. She beautifully articulates Eileen’s desperation and the repercussions of long-standing abuse. McKenzie captures her slow-burning anger and crippling loneliness with subtlety and terrifying intensity.
Shea Whigham, playing Eileen’s abusive father, gives a fear-inducing portrayal of a character shrouded in bitterness and alcoholism. His character Jim is an effective, insidious reminder of Eileen’s lack of agency, anchoring the emotional tension that permeates the movie.
However, it is the arrival of Anne Hathaway‘s character Rebecca, that is truly captivating. Hathaway provides a jolt of energy, seduction and danger to the proceedings. The relationship between Eileen and Rebecca becomes a twisted waltz of manipulation and misplaced loyalty. It morphs into a dark and dangerous territory as the plot uncoils, heightening the sense of anxiety that had been festering from the outset.
One of the film’s strongest points is the unexpected dynamics between Eileen, Rebecca, and Rita (Marin Ireland). The deeply ingrained mental and emotional abuse experienced by each woman paints a haunting and relentless picture of manipulation and betrayal. Oldroyd’s attention to the nuanced facets of their troubled personalities further lends credibility to the actors’ riveting performances.
The cinematography expertly highlights the squalid interiors of Eileen’s life and the contrasting glamour and darkness of Rebecca’s. The 1960s setting becomes a silent character in itself, invoking a time where repression and conformity cast a shadow over societal issues like domestic abuse and misogyny.
Despite its many strong points, Eileen does falter somewhat in the final act. The pivotal shooting scene with Eileen, Rebecca and Rita feels hasty and, to a certain extent, detracts from the movie’s well-established mood of building dread. The resolution also falls short in terms of believability and emotional satisfaction. However, these hitches do not undermine the overall psychological richness and quality of the film.
Eileen stands as a distressing, grimly engaging psychological thriller with impressive performances and remarkable direction. Its ability to expose the bleak realities of abuse and manipulation amidst a 1960s backdrop deserves much credit. It’s not an easy film to watch, but for those brave enough to delve into the depths of Eileen’s horrifying narrative, it is undeniably gripping.
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Eileen Review: An Unrelenting and Riveting Thriller
Acting - 9/10
Cinematography/Visual Effects - 9/10
Plot/Screenplay - 8/10
Setting/Theme - 8/10
Watchability - 8/10
Rewatchability - 7/10
5 (1 vote)
About Caillou Pettis
Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.