Eileen is a 2023 crime drama directed by William Oldroyd and is based on a book by the same name. A lonesome girl begins her friendship with a new colleague at a juvenile prison facility and discovers a secret that changes everything for her. Thomasin McKenzie has done a fantastic job in this film, a level up from Last Night In Soho. Give the movie a watch, it’s intriguing and has some excellent acting. Here’s the plot and ending of Eileen explained; spoilers ahead.
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Eileen Movie Explained In Short
Eileen is the story of a young, lonely girl living a thankless life in a dead-end job who meets a strong, independent woman. She falls in love, kills for her, is ditched by her and finally rides off into the sunset to pursue her own life. The films leaves us wondering if it was real or just Eileen’s imagination.
Eileen Movie Explained (Plot Summary)
It’s clear from the first scene that Eileen yearns for companionship. Her personal life is all about taking care of her alcoholic, thankless dad, who is an ex-chief of police and is constantly telling Eileen how worthless she is.
Why does Eileen live with her dad?
It appears Eileen had to stop her education when her mother fell sick and moved back to Massachusetts. She picked up a job at a juvenile detention facility, which she thought was temporary, but Eileen’s mother died, and Eileen continued living and working in Massachusetts. This is why she doesn’t have a college degree and believes she can’t afford the life she would like.
Who is Rebecca?
Rebecca is the blonde, blue-eyed gal replacing a retiring psychologist at the juvenile facility. He’s shown to be a beautiful, strong, independent woman with a degree from Harvard – everything Eileen wants to be. Rebecca takes a keen interest in Eileen, too. I know you are wondering what Rebecca is and that is address in the Eileen ending section below.
Who is Lee Polk? What did he do?
Lee Polk is one of the kids at the facility whose case Rebecca is shown to dig into. He’s accused of stabbing and killing his father to death. We see Anne Polk, the mother, meeting Rebecca and her son but storming out angrily, and the audience is led to believe that Lee is an evil child who killed his own father.
What did Lee’s father do to him? How was Anne responsible?
Lee’s father sexually abused him each night, and Anne got to know this was happening. But instead of stopping her husband, Anne gave Lee enemas and a bath each night only because she felt her husband’s old love returning to her. I know, pretty sick, right? Unable to bear it, Lee eventually kills his father.
Did Eileen’s dad abuse her?
While Eileen’s dad didn’t abuse her, he did sexually abuse her sister, Joanie. We know this from the scene where Eileen is driving her dad to the hospital, and he tries to make sexual advances on Eileen, thinking it is Joanie.
Rebecca and Eileen
Rebecca invites Eileen for drinks, and they have a fun evening together. We see Rebecca flirting with Eileen quite a bit. They dance together, and the night ends with Rebecca kissing Eileen. Eileen wakes up the following day in her own puke. She’s somehow driven the car back home. Her dad’s very pissed as he thinks Eileen was out with some random guy and has wrecked his car.
From time to time, Eileen has flash visions of her shooting herself, making out with a prison guard, committing suicide in her smoking car, and even killing her father. While these moments show up humorously, they give us insight into Eileen’s unstable mind. She’s also a little creepy, considering how she fancies pulling the hair out of the soap and smiling to herself. As Pablo Fransico once said, that hair does NOT grow on a head.
Christmas Eve: What has Rebecca done? Why?
Rebecca calls and invites Eileen over to her place. Extremely excited, Eileen lands up at what she thinks is Rebecca’s home to discover that Rebecca lives very messily. Soon, Rebecca discloses that the house is not hers and that it’s Anne Polk’s who is tied up in the basement.
Eileen ups and leaves, but Rebecca explains how Lee told her his side of the story, and she came over to Anne’s house to confront her. The two ended up fighting and falling down the basement, where Rebecca subdued and drugged her unconscious. Rebecca wants Eileen’s help to get a confession out of Anne. Eileen agrees and goes out to fetch her dad’s gun, which is now entrusted to her by the cops.
The two go down, and at gunpoint, Anne spills all the beans about her husband, and in midsentence, Eileen shoots Anne. While Rebecca scurries to stop the bleeding, Eileen stays cool and says she was upset. Rebecca realizes Eileen is not a stable person. Eileen further states that they could take Anne back to her place and frame her father for this, as anyone would believe he got drunk and shot a person dead.
I Love You
Those are the three magical words Eileen tells Rebecca and recommends they move to New York and start over. Rebecca’s expression says it all – she wants to run as far away as possible from the crazy person in front of her. Rebecca agrees to the plan and says she’ll land at Eileen’s place after she cleans up all the evidence. Eileen leaves with the unconscious Anne.
Rebecca doesn’t show
At home, Eileen waits by her window for a while and realizes that Rebecca isn’t coming. Disappointed, she leaves home with Anne still unconscious. Eileen leaves the car running at the edge of the city with Anne inside. She raises the windows so the smoke will kill Anne. Eileen hitches a ride in a truck and leaves town. The film ends with Eileen smiling to herself.
Eileen Movie Ending Explained: Was Rebecca real?
While the book intended Rebecca to be imaginary, the ending of Eileen made it such that Rebecca appeared real. We know this from two scenes – the one at the bar and the other in the basement where characters perceive two different people, Rebecca and Eileen, and not just one.
At the bar, though Rebecca introduces herself as Eileen, the bar patrons face both Rebecca and Eileen as they talk. If Eileen was alone that day, and Rebecca was there just in her imagination, the guys don’t give any expression of surprise when Rebecca introduces herself and another.
In the basement, we see Anne first talking to Rebecca and then realizes Eileen is in the room as well. And Anne asks Rebecca, “Why is she here?” referring to Eileen. After that, she proceeds to bad-mouth Eileen’s dad, which, by the way, was the truth; he was a womanizing drunkard. So Anne is clearly seeing two people here.
Sure, we could say Eileen was an unreliable narrator, constantly filled with fantasies in her head. This then makes it impossible to tell if anything we saw in the movie actually happened or not, which makes for a horrible film. Other than this, it makes all sorts of sense that Rebecca was Eileen’s cooked-up character. This also means that Eileen was the one who got obsessed with Lee Polk after learning from her father about his murder. She saw Lee’s dad in the same light as her own and wanted to avenge Lee.
Whatever may be the case with Rebecca, the ending of Eileen establishes that she is finally free from her self imposed prison where all she did was serve her dad and work in a dead-end job. At the cost of a murder, Eileen finally leaves town to start her new life presumably with a new identity.
Eileen Movie Meaning Of The Ending
If Rebecca were real, then the film becomes the story about a lonesome girl, with an abusive father she wants to get away from, but can’t. Then comes along a beautiful blonde who she falls in love with and gets entangled in a police case and commits murder. Just when she thinks, she can pin the murder on her father and elope with Rebecca, she gets ditched. This view point doesn’t take away the fact that Eileen has been through a very troubled past, with an abusive, womanizing father. Years of being frustrated but not being to express this, makes her cold hearted.
On the flip side, if Rebecca were Eileen’s own persona, then the film gives us a ton of insights into Eileen’s character. Who she wants to be and how she wants people to perceive her – all of the things she’s not. This also brings clarity to her interest in Lee Polk’s case as she empathizes with the boy because her dad sexually abused her sister. A lot of things about Eileen fall in place if the Rebecca we see on screen is Eileen’s mental manifestation.
Eileen: What happened to Rebecca?
If we assume Rebecca was real, then she made a run for it. All Rebecca wanted was an office fling and some fun. She was not in love and wanted nothing to do with Eileen, who presented herself as a calm, trigger-happy maniac. Rebecca would have denied it all and let Eileen take the fall. Rebecca may not have gone out of her way to help Lee either, as it would bring up too many questions about Anne.
If we assume Rebecca was a figment of Eileen’s mind, then why not show up in the end to frame the father? I believe by then, Eileen didn’t need Rebecca. She didn’t need her dad to die or go to prison. Eileen wants her freedom, so she takes the opportunity to disappear. In the ending of Eileen, the smile on her face tells us that she is finally free from her terrible life and can restart a new one in a different city as another person, and since Eileen is a loner, no one would know or care.
What did you think of the plot and ending of Eileen? Drop your comments and theories in the section below.
Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
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