If the ending embraced the craziness of the final act as both McKenzie and Hathaway did then it had the makings of being more satisfying.
WRITTEN BY ALEX GILSTON / JANUARY 25, 2023
Thomasin McKenzie lusts after Anne Hathaway in the psychological thriller Eileen, based on the novel of the same name by Ottessa Moshfegh. What starts as a tension-building masterclass, snaps instantly into something so wildly sinister that you might find yourself struggling to carry on.
In Eileen, Thomasin McKenzie plays the titular character who is the daughter of a retired police chief and works at the local prison. Her loneliness manifests in a plethora of different fantasies from feeling the touch of another human, to finding different ways to kill herself. Her focus moves on to the enchanting new prison counselor Dr. Rebecca St. John (Anne Hathaway), a person with whom she can make a connection. Eileen is forced to question their relationship when Rebecca asks her to do something inconceivable.
There is a distinct before and after in Eileen. How you perceive the build-up will affect how you perceive not only the big moment everything shifts but also everything that comes after that. Eileen and Rebecca’s relationship is built deliciously, and although it’s still a little undercooked once the time comes, it’s still convincing enough to carry us through to the end. It’s Eileen’s ending however that leaves things on a fizzle, and after the bang experienced not even 20 minutes prior, underwhelming is the only way to see it.
Thomasin McKenzie plays Eileen with a subdued style. The sparks fly from her whenever she is interacting with Rebecca, the life that Eileen seems so over rushes back into her. McKenzie also fully embraces the break-neck bombshell and rolls with it to the best of her ability. Anne Hathaway’s mysterious turn as Dr. Rebecca is deliciously enticing. These central performances are the main reason Eileen works so well. Their entwined effort elevates the material to a level not many could.
If the ending embraced the craziness of the final act as both McKenzie and Hathaway did then it had the makings of being more satisfying. Unfortunately as the credits title pops up on screen there’s a feeling of incompleteness.