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TagPsychological Thriller

Sundance: Eileen

Set in 1960s Boston, Eileen stars Thomasin McKenzie as the title character, an assistant working at a juvenile detention center. Eileen spends her days taking care of odds and ends at the prison and her nights by taking care of her alcoholic and emotionally abusive father. When psychologist Rebecca (Anne Hathaway) joins the prison staff, Eileen is smitten. Rebecca is blonde, well-dressed, well-mannered and speaks in a lilting Mid-Atlantic accent. Eileen and Rebecca form a close bond that turns sinister as they take an interest in a local criminal case.

Directed by William Oldroyd and based on the novel by Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen is a solid drama with two very captivating leads. McKenzie and Hathaway play off each other much like Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett do in Carol (2015). There are somethings about the film that worked and some things that didn’t. The LGBTQ storyline is left ambiguous which is a bit of a disappointment. There is a tonal shift that takes this from dramatic love story to murder mystery. Earlier scenes hint at something being afoot but the story’s twist will still catch viewers by surprise. New Zealand born actress Thomasin McKenzie really nails the Boston accent. She doesn’t overplay. Instead it’s a bit more subtle and natural which Massachusetts locals, like myself, will appreciate.

Eileen premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

Update: Eileen has been acquired by NEON and will be released theatrically in Fall 2023.

Sundance: Resurrection

Margaret (Rebecca Hall) needs to be in control. At home, she’s an overprotective single mom to her 17 year old daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman). At work, she gives important life advice to an office newcomer and keeps her affair with married coworker Peter (Michael Esper) under wraps. Margaret craves control over the people in her life because at one time she sacrificed it her own. And this came at a great cost.

David (Tim Roth), a dark figure from Margaret’s past, is back. Margaret sees him everywhere and despite her attempts to get rid of him, he persists. David has something that Margaret lost many years ago and wants back. Will she have to sacrifice the life she’s built for herself to finally defeat David?

Written and directed by Andrew Semans, Resurrection is like Gaslight (1944) meets Rosemary’s Baby (1968) but on steroids. Rebecca Hall turns a wonderful performance as the increasingly paranoid Margaret. Tim Roth’s portrayal of David is absolutely chilling. The film is perfectly paced, gripping and will leave viewers in shock. The final scenes are unsettling and will leave viewers asking themselves: “What just happened?”. Resurrection must be seen to be believed and even then you might not realize what exactly was real and what wasn’t.

Resurrection premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. It has since been acquired by IFC Films and Shudder.

I Care a Lot

Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) craves the kind of power-wielding money rich people have. In order to get her hands on that money, she becomes a professional caretaker. But not just any caretaker. A grifter. Working alongside her girlfriend Fran (Eiza Gonzalez) and a network of shady doctors and nursing home executives, she finds targets for her scam: wealthy older people, many without next of kin, whom she can lure into her trap. She becomes their legal guardian, strips them of all of their assets and waits for them to wither away in a nursing home. Marla’s next target,  Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), seems  like an ideal candidate for her scam. But Marla gets much more than she bargained for as she faces Roman (Peter Dinklage), Jennifer’s son and the head of a dangerous underground network of criminals.

Directed by J Blakeson, I Care a Lot is a satisfyingly twisted tale. The villains are decidedly nasty and when they enter an all out battle of wits and violence, you don’t know who to root for. Rosamund Pike plays Marla with an icy cool and strength that makes her character endlessly fascinating. She’s not a one-note character. Audiences with be conflicted by their feelings towards Marla. They’ll hate her but they’ll hate her opposition more.

Every twist and turn of the story kept me guessing. Even when I thought I had found something I thought would be predictable, the plot goes in a different direction. I recommend going into this film knowing as little as possible (hence the spoiler free summary above). 

I do wish we knew a bit more about the characters and how they became criminals. Pike says one line about money and power that seemed absolutely key to her character’s motivation but we only get that one nugget. The movie focuses more on plot than character development. I also didn’t care for the depiction of vaping which is problematic at best.

I  Care A Lot is streaming on Netflix.

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