Eileen

Runtime : 98 mins

Genre : Drama Thriller Crime

Vote Rating : 6.3/10


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Plot : During a bitter 1964 Massachusetts winter, young secretary Eileen becomes enchanted by Rebecca Saint John, the glamorous new counselor at the prison where she works. Their budding friendship takes a twisted turn when Rebecca reveals a dark secret — throwing Eileen onto a sinister path.

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Reviews

Thomasin McKenzie is quite good as the eponymous, rather timid, prison secretary who lives a rather pedestrian life watching the couples make out in the car-park, or fantasising about a quickie with one of her colleagues, before returning home to her retired cop/dipso father replete with two bottles! The arrival of new psychologist "Rebecca" (Anne Hathaway) injects a little life into her dull routine. This assertive sophisticate takes an interest in "Eileen", they go for a drink - there's even some flirting - before "Rebecca" shares a secret with her new friend that involves a young man in prison accused of the brutal murder of his father, and of just what his mother might know of the crime and it's causes. The first hour is quite intriguing but that sense of anticipation is let down by a last half hour that is really quite undercooked and the denouement, well that is just incomplete - on just about every level. The acting and writing is fine - nothing more, but I left the screening thinking that something was missing. What exactly was the point here? It's a good looking film - effort has certainly gone into the aesthetic but I'm not sure I'm really any the wiser.

Rarely have I seen a film as implausible, unfocused and meandering as this second feature outing from director William Oldroyd. After an impressive debut with “Lady Macbeth” (2016), the filmmaker has stumbled seriously in this latest effort, a supposed psychological mystery/thriller that never finds traction and yet somehow manages to go wildly off the rails in the final act. This cinematic misfire examines the relationship that develops between two women who work at a young men’s prison in 1960s small town Massachusetts. Eileen (Thomasin McKenzie) is a reserved, awkward, often-bullied, sexually repressed administrative assistant, and Rebecca (Anne Hathaway) is the facility’s newly hired, sophisticated, worldly, Harvard-educated psychologist. They quickly strike up a close yet somewhat unlikely bond with less-than-subtle (but apparently never-consummated) sexual overtones, a story thread that seems to be heading somewhere but never does. In large part that’s because the protagonists end up becoming involved in a hare-brained scheme worthy of Lucy and Ethel, only with significant implications, a scenario that comes out of left field and sends the narrative into serious, unexplained head-scratching territory. While the picture features a fine production design, a palette of creative cinematography, and capable Independent Spirit Award-nominated supporting performances by Hathaway and Marin Ireland, there’s not much else here that’s engaging, riveting or worthwhile, elements essential to a good mystery/thriller offering. Whatever the filmmaker was going for here obviously never comes to fruition, thanks to either its poorly composed script or its mishandled execution (or a combination thereof). Indeed, this is one of those films where virtually the entire project truly would have been better off left on the cutting room floor.

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