Eileen is a 2023 American period psychological thriller film directed by William Oldroyd and starring Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway. It is based on the 2015 novel of the same name by Ottessa Moshfegh and adapted into a screenplay by Moshfegh with her husband Luke Goebel. Set in 1960s Boston, the film trails a parasitic relationship between two women working at a juvenile detention facility.
Eileen premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2023. It will begin a limited theatrical release in the United States on December 1, 2023 by Neon, before expanding wide on December 8, 2023.
In 1960s New England, Eileen is working at a prison when a captivating, glamorous counselor arrives and helps her access new facets of her personality but may be drawing her into something more dangerous.
- Thomasin McKenzie as Eileen Dunlop
- Shea Whigham as Jim Dunlop
- Anne Hathaway as Rebecca
- Owen Teague as Randy
- Marin Ireland as Rita Polk
- Jefferson White as Buck Warren
- Tonye Patano as Mrs. Stevens
- Siobhan Fallon-Hogan as Mrs. Murray
In August 2016, it was revealed that Erin Cressida Wilson was adapting the novel Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh for Fox Searchlight and producer Scott Rudin. The novel was ultimately adapted by Moshfegh and her husband Luke Goebel. The mayor of Metuchen, New Jersey, Jonathan Busch, first confirmed that Anne Hathaway, Thomasin McKenzie, and Shea Whigham would have roles in the film. Filming commenced in late 2021 in Metuchen with filming locations also including South Amboy, New Jersey. It was one of a succession of productions that Hathaway was filming in New Jersey in 2021 and 2022.
Principal photography on the production was completed in February 2022. It was confirmed that Owen Teague and Marin Ireland had been added to the cast and that Endeavor Content and WME Independent were selling distribution rights. Author of the novel and the screenplay Moshfegh was quoted as saying it was “a very faithful adaptation of the tone” of her original work. In June 2022, she confirmed the edit was locked-in and said that McKenzie as Eileen was “amazing. It’s like she was born to play that role, she’s just so exciting to watch. And Anne Hathaway plays Rebecca, the sort of femme fatale character. I mean, we’re watching it again today and the first cut of it, I was like, ‘This is so much better than my book.’ So the movie is really satisfying, I’m excited about that.” Moshfegh said bringing her writer husband Luke Goebel into the script writing process made the script better because he was able to add another perspective to the story. They began writing drafts during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 and avoiding seasonal wildfires from Oregon to Pasadena to Palm Springs with Moshfegh saying to Vanity Fair, “There was a sense of looming danger haunting us, which actually really helped the writing process.” The score for the film was written by Richard Reed Parry, from the band Arcade Fire. Hathaway described the project as “Carol meets Reservoir Dogs”.
Eileen will begin a limited theatrical release in the United States on December 1, 2023 before expanding wide a week later (December 8). The film premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2023. In March 2023, Neon acquired North American distribution rights to the film. It was previously reported that the film could be released in late 2022. In July 2023, Focus Features acquired worldwide distribution rights outside North America to the film, with its parent Universal Pictures handling distribution on its behalf and the film being slated for a theatrical release in the United Kingdom and Ireland on the same day as its limited release in the United States.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Eileen holds an approval rating of 88% based on 68 reviews with an average rating of 7.5/10. The site’s consensus reads: “Subverting expectations with nearly every well-heeled step, Eileen uses one toxic relationship to explore the unpredictable effect of perceived personal power.” On Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the film holds a score of 75 out 100, based on 18 reviews indicating “generally positive reviews”.
In his review of the film following its premiere at Sundance, David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called Eileen “a film both malevolent and playful, morbidly funny and disturbing”, commending the screenplay, direction, cinematography and cast performances. In his review for IndieWire, Ryan Lattanzio called it a “perverse folie à deux” and lauded the “immensely detailed” direction and cinematography, as well as the “career-best” performances of the leads. In Variety, Jessica Klang called the film “wildly audacious, wondrously twisted” and “deliciously deranged”, stating: “The moviemaking terminology is apt, because this is a film that is practically drunk on the possibilities of cinema, pumping a recklessly modern energy through a plethora of classical Hollywood genres […] It moves, sometimes sinuously, sometimes with lurching abruptness, from Sirkian romantic melodrama to film noir into black-comedy horror, coming to rest somewhere in the realms of one of the more effed-up Hitchcock thrillers.”
In Rolling Stone, K. Austin Collins observed that “Eileen is quick enough on its feet that there’s more pleasure than impatience to watching it spin its web somewhere in the direction of the obvious” and praised Oldroyd’s direction in contrast to Todd Haynes’ similar film Carol. In her review for Vox, Alissa Wilkinson remarked: “Eileen is the kind of drama that feels like it’s got dirt beneath its fingernails […] [It] is dank and disturbing and, when you’re in the mood for something that will mess you up, exactly right”. Conversely, Benjamin Lee of The Guardian admired Hathaway’s “pitch-perfect” performance, but revealed that he found himself “craving a little bit more oddity from a film, and characters, that hinted at a more daring and depraved destination”.
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