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Anne Hathaway is Stunning in Hulu’s Most Overlooked Thriller

It’s Carol meets Reservoir Dogs with a hint of dark obsession.

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2023 was a great year for book adaptations. American Fiction, Poor Things, and The Zone of Interest all took strange stories and translated them to the screen in unique ways that reflected their original tone, but added rich performances and changed their tales in ways that better suited a visual medium.

But another adaption of a novel that’s just hit Hulu went largely overlooked, even though its gripping story and hauntingly minimalist visuals make it as memorable as its high-profile competitors. Eileen, based on the novel by Ottessa Moshfegh, is the story of Eileen Dunlop (Thomasin McKenzie), a mousy girl living a dead-end life with her abusive alcoholic father. The only joys in her life are daydreaming about taking revenge on her dad, and her twisted relationship with her own sexuality.

Everything changes when glamorous psychiatrist Rebecca Saint John (Anne Hathaway) takes a job at the boys’ correctional facility where Eileen works as a receptionist. Eileen is fascinated by the poised, driven, independent career woman who seems like everything she wants to be. The two begin a friendship, and as Eileen’s home life falls apart, her relationship with Rebecca grows increasingly intense, building to a shocking third-act twist that turns the entire movie on its head.

Eileen’s screenplay was written by Moshfegh herself, along with her husband, fellow writer Luke Goebel. Its 1960s setting and sudden turn to intrigue fit the silver screen well, and Moshfegh was happy with the result, telling Entertainment Weekly, “this is so much better than my book.”

What starts as a friendship becomes much darker.


Directed by William Oldroyd, the director of Florence Pugh’s breakout movie Lady Macbeth, Eileen’s tone is almost noir, but not enough to feel bleak. Every element, from the score by Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry to its bold, retro color grading, feels alive with the thrill of meeting someone you know will change your life.

But the best part of Eileen is its third-act twist, which comes out of nowhere and catapults what could have been a coming-of-age romance drama into a tense crime thriller. The sudden swerve discards any previous themes; there’s no more coming-of-age because Eileen has to instantly grow up amid a romance intensifying to obsession.

Eileen lulls you into a false sense of security before it shocks you, and that’s what makes it brilliant. In a streaming age where studios fret that audiences will flee if nothing big happens in the opening minutes, Eileen takes its time to paint portraits of its characters. If you let it do its work, you’ll be rewarded with the most underrated thriller of 2023.

Eileen is streaming on Hulu.

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