A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The takeaway here is that those who are severely mistreated and abused will eventually fight to break free, any way they can.
Positive Role Models
Rebecca St. John, a woman trying to make her way in a man's world, is initially a role model to Eileen -- she seems like a perfect package of intelligence, confidence, independence, and glamour. Eileen is instantly under her spell, and starts trying to be more like her. But we eventually realize she's the furthest thing from a role model.
The two main characters are White women (Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie). Hathaway's Rebecca is smart, savvy, and a lesbian. Eileen isn't initially sure whether Rebecca's affection is romance or friendship. The residents of the small Massachusetts town the movie is set in are White, working-class people. The story seems to promise a female empowerment theme, but the women come across as weak, making poor choices.
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Violence & Scariness
Disturbing, detailed verbal references to rape and incest. Several instances of gun violence with blood. Callous fantasies about murder and suicide, depicted in a straightforward fashion. Character links positive sexual outcome to heinous acts of assault. Graphic crime-scene photos of murder victim. Fight in a prison. Gun is often pointed at people, including a story about a former chief of police pointing it at school children. Clear distress while in peril. A father consistently puts his daughter down, telling her she's worthless and even suggesting she kill herself after his own death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Explicit sexual fantasy of sex in the workplace. Simulated masturbation. Featured extras are shown making out. Developing romance between two main characters.
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Strong language includes "ass," "bastards," "crazy bitch," "goddamn," "motherf----r," "screw him," "s--t," and several uses of "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Heavy drinking and smoking throughout. A main character begins drinking hard liquor and smoking cigarettes after meeting a glamorous older woman who participates in these activities. Reference to the psychological benefits of psychedelic drugs. Tranquilizers.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Eileen is a violent, slow-burn thriller about Eileen Dunlop (Thomasin McKenzie), a lonely 24-year-old introvert stuck in a small Massachusetts town who finds hope for a more exciting life through a glamorous older co-worker (Anne Hathaway). The plot involves the fact-based mystery of why a teen at a correctional facility murdered his father. The noir-esque drama surrounding that case promises a female empowerment story, but it's actually the opposite: The women here are weak and make poor choices. Eileen is verbally abused by her alcoholic, widowed father (Shea Whigham), who's the town's former chief of police. He constantly puts her down with cruel insults. She doesn't react to the nasty things he says, but she envisions how to end her emotional pain with violence. She also fantasizes about lustful, intense sex with a co-worker in the middle of her workplace and masturbates frequently. The script includes graphic, disturbing verbal details about sexual child abuse, rape, and incest. There are several instances of gun violence (with blood) and crime-scene photos of a murder victim. An aspirational character smokes and drinks hard liquor, motivating Eileen to pick up those habits, too. Strong language includes "crazy bitch," "s--t," "f--k," "goddamn," and more. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Despite mesmerizing performances from McKenzie, Hathaway, Marin Ireland, and Siobhan Fallon Hogan, their characters are led astray by the creative team. Novelist Ottessa Moshfegh adapted her own novel for the film with her writer husband Luke Goebel (Causeway), but some stories should be left on the page. What may work in a book -- where readers can use their imagination to visualize a story's more upsetting details in a way they can handle -- doesn't necessarily succeed in a filmed adaptation, which forces the writer and director's vision on viewers, whether they're ready for it or not.
Eileen has been brought to the screen in a way that abandons truth in the way it depicts its female characters, changing details to make their actions even more sordid, salacious, and insipid. Perhaps still on an adrenaline rush from his critically acclaimed debut, Lady Macbeth, director William Oldroyd seems to have felt that he had the goods to tell this story about complicated women, but Eileen proves differently. He, Moshfegh, and Goebel turn the story of a miserable 24-year-old woman who's desperate to be seen into a man's version of what that looks like, reinforcing the problems of trying to tell women's stories through the male gaze.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
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