William Oldroyd’s follow-up to his superb feature debut, Lady Macbeth, Eileen is a 60s-set sapphic neo-noir that sees a gauche younger woman (Thomasin McKenzie) entranced by a sophisticated new co-worker (Anne Hathaway) at a Massachusetts young offenders facility. McKenzie plays Eileen as a girl who is upstaged by her own shapeless beige cardigan; it’s no wonder she’s fascinated by brassy blonde Rebecca, who matches her scarlet leather gloves to her sports car.
And for a while at least, we fall under the same spell – against a world-weary bluesy score and an evocatively down-at-heel, small-minded, small-town backdrop, Rebecca is an impossibly exciting presence. Hathaway is magnetic, purring her way around the baked-in misogyny of the potato-faced local men. But then a third-act tonal shift knocks the whole film off balance. Rebecca remains impossibly glamorous, but she is no longer believable as a character.