Verdict: The performances and premise cannot be faulted, however, the psychological thriller aspect needed some improvement.

  • Thomasin McKenzie, Shea Whigham, Anne Hathaway
  • December 1st 2023
  • William Oldroyd

Anne Hathaway plays an alluring prison psychologist alongside Thomasin McKenzie in this 1960s psychological thriller.

Anne Hathaway has come a long way since The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada days.

In Eileen, directed by Lady Macbeth’s William Oldroyd, she plays a mysterious but glamorous psychologist named Rebecca who joins a boys’ prison and finds a friend in the secretary Eileen Dunlop (Thomasin McKenzie).

Eileen doesn’t have much going on in her life except work and caring for her alcoholic father Jim (Shea Whigham) so she is thrilled to have a friend, and perhaps something more. She becomes obsessed with Rebecca, who uses her devotion to her advantage.

Set in the harsh winter in 1960s Massachusetts, Eileen, the film, seems like it’s going to follow a similar path to Todd Haynes’ Carol at first because there is an age gap and a palpable sense of attraction between the leads. Rebecca’s attention helps Eileen comes out of her shell and realise what she wants from her life.

But the comparisons to Carol eventually come to an end because this is a psychological thriller rather than a romance drama.

At one point, the film stops heading where you think it’s going and becomes something unexpected. Luke Goebel and Ottessa Moshfegh, adapting from her novel of the same name, drop a bombshell that will have jaws dropping throughout the audience!

But the shocking curveball is not executed well. The reveal is not followed through in a satisfying way because very little time is given to process what it all means. It’s a thrilling idea but it needed more exploration and resolution.

Thankfully, the performances do not disappoint. McKenzie is so convincing as Eileen, whose drab and dull life becomes colourful with Rebecca in it. She is so enamoured with Rebecca and treads the fine line between being in love with her or possibly wanting to be her.

It’s easy to see why Eileen is taken by Hathaway’s captivating Rebecca – she exudes old Hollywood glamour, she is very different from other women and unburdened by society’s expectations.

You have to respect films that take big, bold swings but unfortunately with Eileen, the execution needed some improvement.

In cinemas from Friday 1st December.

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