Thomasin McKenzie & Anne Hathaway burn up the screen in William Oldroyd’s unsettling thriller.
Eileen will likely be lost in the holiday season shuffle among such spectacles as the upcoming Wonka and awards-friendly fare like Ferrari. On the other hand, it’s unclear under what circumstances Eileen would make a big splash. It’s an odd, occasionally off-putting little film that wouldn’t work as well as it does if not for the scorching chemistry between its two leads.
Based on Ottessa Moshfegh’s (also odd and occasionally off-putting) novel of the same name, Eileen stars Thomasin McKenzie as the titular character, a lonely young woman stuck in a miserable rut. Living in the most depressing town in Massachusetts circa 1964, Eileen is forced to take care of her alcoholic, mean-spirited father (a chilling Shea Whigham, still somehow not one of Hollywood’s biggest stars), a former cop who’s taken to waving his gun at their neighbors. Working as a secretary at a juvenile detention center, though she’s in her twenties she comes off as someone much younger, a meek and awkward child merely dressing up as an adult. Eileen also has a child’s taste for doing things like ignoring her hygiene, stuffing herself with candy, and compulsively masturbating, while maintaining a rich fantasy life involving rough sex with a detention center guard, or murdering her father. Her boredom has reached pathological levels. Continue Reading →
Flora and Son
About 75 minutes into Flora and Son, its script veers toward the self-reflexive. “What movie are you in?” Flora (Eve Hewson) snaps. “One without you in it,” her son, Max (Orén Kinlan), replies. This sort of exchange fits holistically into writer-director John Carney’s latest. It’s self-aware, sure, but it’s not meta. Like most of the film’s writing, it is entirely transparent in its machinations, going so far as to declare them at points. Supporting characters largely function as symbols rather than people. Continue Reading →
You Hurt My Feelings
The white lie at the center of You Hurt My Feelings isn’t harmless, nor does it spiral out to reveal lie upon lie, turning a marriage into a house of cards. Instead, it lies somewhere less explored: a trivial thing whose impact is understandably real. It’s a fine line to walk, but Nicole Holofcener does just that, and with a razor-sharp wit to boot. Continue Reading →
In the Heights
During his sophomore year at Wesleyan University in 1999, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a draft of his debut play. At first, he “had one song and a title: In the Heights.” Soon after, the musical would premiere at the school’s student-run theater. John Buffalo Miller and Quiara Alegría Hudes helped revise it in the following years, and then it snowballed. It premiered off-Broadway in 2005, went to Broadway in 2008, and had international tours throughout the 2010s. A film adaptation felt like the natural next step, and over two decades after its inception, it arrives with a screenplay from Hudes and Jon M. Chu directing. Continue Reading →
Wild Mountain Thyme
An adaptation of his play Outside Mullingar, which was panned by Irish critics, John Patrick Shanley’s Wild Mountain Thyme follows a pair of neighboring farmers as they try to find love despite an ongoing land dispute they get caught up in. When the trailer to this film came out, it was immediately mocked for awful accents and a questionable depiction of Ireland. From watching, it turns out those criticisms were correct. This is a soulless film that does little more than create some pretty shots for the Irish tourist board. Continue Reading →
Force Majeure wasn’t one to spell itself out. It didn’t have a traditionally satisfying conclusion. Its morality was ambiguous at best. Hell, its most intimate moments approached its characters like an anthropologist looking at a family as a tribe. But while that informed the worldview of Ruben Östlund’s film, it also provided much of its style. Several scenes watched people from afar, the camera peeking through rooms only to see a fraction of the subjects in something close to a profile view. Continue Reading →