A secretary's relationship with her new coworker at a correctional facility turns sinister in Eileen. Eileen Dunlop (Thomasin McKenzie) is a young woman working as a secretary at a correctional facility for teenage boys in 1960s Massachusetts. At home, Eileen has to deal with her alcoholic father Jim (Shea Whigham), the retired police chief, who suffers from paranoia. Eileen finds herself drawn to Rebecca Saint John (Anne Hathaway), the new psychologist at the correctional facility. The two quickly strike up a friendship, but things turn dark and sinister when Rebecca admits a secret to Eileen.
Eileen is a psychological thriller directed by William Oldroyd (Lady Macbeth). It is based on the 2015 novel of the same name by Ottessa Moshfegh, who adapted it herself with her husband Luke Goebel. The film stars Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit, Last Night in Soho) as the titular Eileen Dunlop, who regularly has various sexual or violent fantasies. Eileen develops an instant connection with the correctional facility's new psychologist Rebecca Saint John, who is currently working with teenage murderer Lee Polk (Sam Nivola) and his mother Rita (Marin Ireland). Eileen has high expectations when Rebecca invites her other for drinks on Christmas Eve, however, it turns out her intentions are much more sinister.
My Thoughts on Eileen
There are several instances in Eileen, where the titular character would commit a sudden sexual or violent act, only for it to be revealed as a fantasy sequence. Presumably, this is meant to illustrate that the character is not of sound mind. Eileen seems to be a woman, who desires an escape from her menial existence as a secretary at a correctional facility, where she is routinely verbally abused by her older co-workers.
It is almost a breath of fresh air for Eileen when Rebecca Saint John comes to work at the correctional facility. Gorgeous, blonde, and Harvard-educated, Rebecca encapsulates the escape that Eileen so desperately desires. This is further demonstrated when the two go out for drinks one night and Rebecca acts flirtatious towards Eileen, resulting in the development of a full-on infatuation.
This all leads towards the final act of Eileen, which takes a very sudden dark and sinister turn. While it will be a major spoiler to say exactly how the plot turns dark, it does reveal some truths about the major characters, which go against previous expectations. These expectations are thanks greatly to Thomasin McKenzie's very innocent-looking appearance, as Eileen reveals herself to be anything but.
Overall, Eileen was a fine enough thriller. I thought that the overreliance on fantasy sequences was a cheap way to add shock value to the film. However, the film still sports solid performances from Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway.