Express & Star

Film Talk: Anne Hathaway leads the charge in psychological thriller Eileen

With an Oscar, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy under her belt, it's getting hard to remember life before this fair lady.

Eileen: Anne Hathaway as Dr Rebecca St John and Thomas McKenzie as Eileen Dunlop

She came to the fore as a teenager in The Princess Diaries, and over the last two decades has gone on to shine in the likes of Brokeback Mountain, The Devil Wears Prada and The Dark Knight Rises. Her sublime turn as Fantine in 2012’s Les Misérables garnered her several of the above accolades, and even since then she has grown in her ability to enchant, captivate and simply own the screen.

With a namesake who was the wife of William Shakespeare, Anne Hathaway was perhaps always destined for acting success. But whether you believe in fate or not, this American star has spent her career consistently knocking it out of the park. Her films have grossed over $6.8 billion worldwide, and by 2015 she had claimed a place on the list of the world’s highest-paid actresses. in 2009 she appeared on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list, going on to claim a place among the world’s highest-paid actresses by 2015.

There’s no getting away from it; this one’s a big gun with a tendency to shoot movies into success. But does she prove to be the silver bullet for this week’s top release? Directed by William Oldroyd, Eileen places Hathaway alongside Thomasin McKenzie, Shea Whigham, Marin Ireland and Owen Teague in a psychological thriller that’s looking to get our cogs turning.

However, does this pre-Christmas yarn succeed in offering audiences a delightful touch of darkness and danger, or does it fall flat on its face, as Hathaway herself undoubtedly did the first time she tried to walk in those Prada heels?

Come on, Eileen. Let’s see what you’ve got...

EILEEN (UK 15/ROI 15A, 98 mins)

Released: December 1 (UK & Ireland)

In a fractious early exchange between the downtrodden heroine of director William Oldroyd’s psychological thriller and her bile-spewing father, the perpetually inebriated patriarch cruelly instructs his only child: “Get a life Eileen… get a clue!”

Eileen follows orders, fearful of the repercussions if she dissents, but audiences may not appreciate the results of her wishful self-improvement, adapted by Ottessa Moshfegh from her critically acclaimed 2015 novel with husband Luke Goebel.

Set in 1960s Massachusetts, Oldroyd’s picture is a glacial study of perversity, compulsion and coercion that flirts with darkness and weirdness, with wafts of sapphic romance a la Todd Haynes’s infinitely superior Carol.

Ultimately, Eileen is a lot of foreplay and very little satisfaction for either the characters or us, with a hurried finale that twists sharply in one unexpected direction (replete with show-stopping monologue from Marin Ireland).

A gnarly punishment is an awkward fit for the torrid crime.

Stylistic flourishes including projector reel clicks on the soundtrack to evoke a bygone era of film noir on celluloid are welcome and Anne Hathaway is positively delicious as an alluring psychologist, who slinks through the youth reform system and seduces the title character into straying outside her comfort zone. Conversely, Thomasin McKenzie is emotionally underpowered as the wallflower waiting to bloom in poisoned earth and the tricky musicality of her Boston accent hits occasional bum notes.

Twenty-something shrinking violet Eileen Dunlop (McKenzie) works as a secretary at a juvenile detention centre, a thankless grind made bearable by secret erotic fantasies about one of the male guards (Owen Teague).

Home life is equally dispiriting.

She weathers constant abuse from her father Jim (Shea Whigham), a former police officer and drunk who likens important people to central characters in Hollywood movies.

“Other people are just filling space, That’s you Eileen, you’re one of them,” he callously informs his daughter.

The arrival of glamorous psychologist Dr Rebecca St John (Hathaway) turns heads and Eileen is mesmerised by the impeccably tailored new addition to the staff.

Rebecca reassesses the case of a sullen, withdrawn inmate named Lee Polk (Sam Nivola), who killed his father.

“Some families are so sick, so twisted, the only way out is for someone to die,” observes the psychologist with icy detachment.

As Eileen’s infatuation with Rebecca intensifies, the secretary supervises a tense visit from Lee’s mother Rita (Ireland) and Dr St John savours the adrenaline rush of living dangerously.

Eileen is a trudge compared with Oldroyd’s award-winning 2016 debut, Lady Macbeth, starring Florence Pugh, which also charts a disaffected heroine’s sexual awakening.

A messy final 15 minutes dream of Hitchcock but wake closer to melodramatic poppycock.


Released: December 1 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

A feature-length documentary goes behind the scenes of Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour in support of her critically acclaimed seventh studio album, which features the singles Break My Soul and Cuff It.

Cameras are granted exclusive access to the singer-songwriter and her entourage from the inception of the stadium spectacular and opening night in Stockholm to an emotional final performance in Kansas City, Missouri.

The film follows Beyonce back home to Houston to enjoy a family meal and reflect on the strength drawn from her family including mother Tina, 11-year-old daughter Blue Ivy Carter and six-year-old twins Rumi and Sir.


Released: December 1 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

CBeebies Panto: Robin Hood: Rhys Stephenson as Robin Hood

The annual festive production from the CBeebies team has become an end-of-year cinema tradition for families, including feelgood productions of Thumbelina, Hansel And Gretel, The Night Before Christmas. and Dick Whittington And His Cat.

This year’s offering is a fun-filled adaptation tale of robbing the rich to give to the poor directed by Chris Jarvis and Geoff Coward, which was recorded over two days in front of a live audience at Venue Cymru in Llandudno.

Robin Hood (Rhys Stephenson), Marian (Maddie Moate) and a band of merry men including Little John (Tyler Collins) and Will Scarlett (Gemma Hunt) are persistent thorns in the side of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Jennie Dale).

Justin Fletcher co-stars as Queen Tumblebee the Bee.


Released: December 1 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Fallen Leaves: Alma Poysti as Ansa and Jussi Vatanen as Holappa

The path to happiness for two lonely souls is littered with obstacles in a romantic tragi-comedy set in modern-day Helsinki, written and directed by Aki Kaurismaki.

Supermarket store employee Ansa (Alma Poysti) works unsociable hours stocking shelves and has no-one to welcome her home.

At a karaoke bar, she meets lonely construction worker Holappa (Jussi Vatanen), who is locked in a long-term battle with alcohol addiction. The strangers click and enjoy a glorious first date at the cinema. Burgeoning romance inspires Holappa to confront his demons but cruel twists of fate repeatedly keep the lovers apart.

FEMME (UK 18/ROI 18, 91 mins)

Released: December 1 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

A brutalised drag queen seeks revenge against one of their assailants in a provocative thriller written and directed by Sam H Freeman and Ng Choon Ping.

Jules (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) wears his drag persona Aphrodite Banks as a suit of armour and on stage he is fearless.

Away from the glamour, Jules visits a local store where a group of rowdy men barrage him with insults and ultimately beat him to a bloodied pulp.

He is deeply traumatised and retreats into the home he shares with concerned friend Toby (John McCrea). Eventually, Jules ventures outside and visits a local gay sauna, where he crosses paths with one of his attackers, Preston (MacKay), who clearly doesn’t recognise him.

Jules decides to expose Preston’s homosexuality as fitting revenge.


Released: December 1 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

A besieged American family face bloodthirsty elves in a Scandinavian comedy horror written by Aleksander Kirkwood Brown and directed by Magnus Martens.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.