Eileen: Differences Between The Book And Movie

This spoiler-filled article outlines all the differences between the book and the movie Eileen. So make sure you’ve watched or read it before you continue on. For a detailed film analysis, check out this Eileen Plot And Ending Explained article. Alright, let’s jump straight in.

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Eileen Book Vs Movie: Rebecca – Is she real or not?

When novelist Ottessa Moshfegh was asked in an interview about Rebecca’s character, she had this to say:

I have been Rebecca in my life, I certainly think so – but I’ve also been Eileen. Eileen felt real. Rebecca was somebody else’s character, a character from a movie or a book read long ago. She is also an imaginary person in another sense, in that Eileen has imagined her.

So here we can see that Rebecca was clearly intended to be a character extended by Elieen in the story. This is not to say there was no Rebecca. That wouldn’t be right as we see other office members interact with Rebecca. But what the book strongly implies is that Eileen has projected her own desires onto Rebecca as character traits. Think of it from the Black Swan analysis perspective – Rebecca exists but barely interacts with Eileen. All the scenes with Rebecca and Eileen are only part of her imagination.

This means Eileen falls in love with the very imaginary character she’s created.

There was no one at the bar with her that evening.

Eileen is the one who’s obsessed with Lee Polk because her dad brings it up and has landed at Anne’s house by herself.

Rebecca wasn’t at Anne’s house to witness Eileen shoot Anne.

Here are more notes from Taylor from our podcast, Film Exploder, the episode that focused on Eileen (episode below).

Eileen Book Vs Movie: Rebecca shoots, not Elieen

In the book, Rebecca shoots Anne, not Eileen. But considering Rebecca was imagined by Eileen, it was her pulling the trigger in any case. But this is more consistent as Eileen projects all the femme-fatal stuff onto Rebecca, and she’s just a bystander.

Eileen Book Vs Movie: Eileen is bulimic in the novel

In Moshfegh’s novel, there are raw and disgusting segments about Eileen dealing with bulimia induced by laxatives. This gives insights into how she perceives herself and her need to be skinny as she yearns for companionship. The book goes into detail about Eileen “shitting her brains out” in the basement bathroom at home. Afterwards, she lies on the cold floor, feeling strangely empty and lightheaded. It’s evident why they skipped this in the movie, though it highlights Eileen’s self-destructive tendencies. The story has enough violent moments to capture that without bringing in diarrhoea. Thomasin McKenzie would have been very grateful to the screenplay writers, too.

Similarities between the novel and movie

Rita’s monologue, which was the best piece of acting in the film, was identical to the content of the novel. As Taylor mentions, it’s almost word for word. It was well written and acted!

Eileen kills the unconscious Rita by leaving the windows up in her car, which leaks engine smoke inside. This sequence of events is corroborated in the book, which explicitly confirms that Eileen kills Rita Polk after Rebecca shoots her. But given Rebecca was Eileen in the basement, the murder is entirely on her.

What are your thoughts on the plot and ending of the book Eileen? Where there other differences between the book and the movie Eileen? Do drop a comment below!