Directed by William Oldroyd, this new thriller will hit cinemas on 1 December
BY ELLA GAUCI, IMAGE BY NEON
As the credits rolled on William Oldroyd’s twisted thriller Eileen, I finally uncurled my fingers from the anxious fist I had been holding for the last 96 minutes.
Based on Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel of the same name, Eileen is not easy to summarise. On the surface, it’s a film about a strange, introverted figure called Eileen who is a secretary at a juvenile detention facility for teenage boys. Eileen’s life is fairly small: she buys gin for her alcoholic father, she goes to work in her dead mother’s clothes, and she’s addicted to sugar. But everything changes when she meets the facility’s new counsellor Rebecca…
I am a sucker for a morbid sapphic storyline. At a time of year which is usually filled with happy rom-coms, there is something refreshing about Eileen’s dark storyline. Thomasin McKenzie, who plays Eileen, manages to fill the cinema with a chillingly unsettling aura. And don’t even get me started on Anne Hathaway (who plays Rebecca). Compelling, sultry, and looking impossibly good with bleach-blonde hair, Anne’s performance truly rocks the cinema.
Directed by William Oldroyd, who is best known for his work on Macbeth (2016), the muted colour palette feels like it is literally chilling the room. Eileen’s world is just as dark and dreary as the icy suburbs that surround her.
While Eileen is sapphic at its heart – with lingering glances, chaste kisses, and a very sexy dancing scene – queer love is not its focus. There is something rather nice about this; despite being set in the 1960s when homophobia was rife, the film doesn’t seem to acknowledge its time period. Instead, it is far more focused on the neurological and cerebral inner worlds of its characters.
The lesbian femme fatale is not a new concept, but the unflinching portrayal of Eileen as being so disturbing does feel new. As much as I love a sapphic romcom, it’s fun to see queer characters play these morally ambiguous roles that are usually designated for men.
Eileen is confusing. It’s got moments that might make you feel queasy. Moments that will make you jump. There are even moments of warmth that thaw its icy core. It will leave you with questions that will never be answered. But that unpredictability is exactly what makes it so special.
It’s a must-watch for this winter!
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