Parents' Guide to

Eileen

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Violent thriller has smoking, drinking, abuse references.

Movie R 2023 97 minutes
Eileen Movie Poster: Thomasin McKenzie looks out of her element

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 16+

There are standout character performances in an uneven story

I am such a fan of McKenzie that I can't score this lower. Her performance is stellar...per the usual and so is the always entertaining Whigham, but it is Ireland that steals the film from everybody at the end. The film feels like an amalgamation of a few different films: Saltburn (2023), The Shape of Water (2017) and The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987). The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne of course being the frontrunner of awesomeness compared to these other films (no one can outdo Maggie Smith). This film falls short in its narrative, but the character development that McKenzie offers is enough to watch the film and feel like this is going somewhere even if it is all in your mind.
age 18+

Disturbing

This is a well made but very disturbing movie. Perhaps the only enjoyable part of this movie is watching Anne Hathaway in a complex, twisted psychological thriller. But otherwise, this movie is dark psychological "pornography" ( no actual sex scenes, no nudity, but abusive sexual themes). Set in the 1960’s , the main character Eileen is a lonely social misfit. She works as a secretary in a juvenile detention facility. She also the sole caretaker of her father who is a disabled ex-cop with alcoholism and clinical paranoia. Her only escape is her sexual fantasies, and she masturbates watching some of the young men in the prison. (Eileen is played by Thomasin McKenzie who plays the daughter in in Leave No Trace. She is equally amazing in this complex role. ) When a new psychiatrist played by Anne Hathaway starts working at the prison, everyone is in awe of her Harvard degree and glamourous appearance. Hathaway’s character seduces Eileen, but is never clear if this is lesbian desire or just Eileen’s desperation for recognition. Before the relationship can be consummed, the situation devolves to criminal behavior that traps both of them. The movie is based on a book that is apparently even more controversial, since the written descriptions in the book of the character’s interior monologues make their depravity even more lurid. In some ways, this movie reminded me of Carol ( 2015) which was hard enough to watch. This one is even worse, since it is morally twisted, dark and complicated. It does explore the roles of women in our culture, but the traditional role ( of faithful wife) is portrayed with a believable but disturbing plot twist) Watch this movie if you don’t believe in human depravity. But there may be less disturbing ways to ponder this issue.   

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (1 ):

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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