Ottessa Moshfegh is an unapologetically good writer and in the last year or so, BookTok has cottoned on. Assuming the role of a Puck-like figure, Moshfegh creates repellent (mostly female) characters that always seem draw out strong reactions from her readers. They're bad friends and narcissistic. They skol pills and hardly eat. Oftentimes they have poor hygiene too. She conjures up worlds as absurd as the one we live in now, with characters that shine a mirror on our own habits and behaviours, and Gen Z are eating it up. Now, the chaos of Moshfegh is getting a home on the silver screen. Her debut novel Eileen is being adapted into a film and Anne Hathaway has snatched up one if its leading roles.
Who will star in Eileen?
If you've been paying attention, you will have noticed that Anne Hathaway is enjoying a kind of renaissance of late. She was tapped as an ambassador for Bulgari, is being recognised for her style overhaul, was selected for the summer 2022 cover of Interview Magazine and now is onboard the adaptation of this critically acclaimed novel. But for what part you ask?
Those who have read the novel will know that there are two main roles; that of Eileen Dunlop and the charismatic new counselor at the boys' prison Eileen works at: Dr. Rebecca Saint John. Anne Hathaway has secured the role of Dr. Rebecca Saint John while Thomasin McKenzie, from The Power of the Dog, Jojo Rabbit and Last Night in Soho is onboard as Eileen. William Oldroyd is helming the project.
What is Eileen about?
The best thing about the film is that the script was written by Moshfegh and her husband Luke Goebel. Set in a bleak New England town in the mid 1960s, like My Year of Rest and Relaxation, the plot follows another female anti-hero: Eileen Dunlop. Eileen is a miserable 24-year-old secretary at a prison for boys who is stuck caring for her abusive, alcoholic father. She too drinks like a fish, eats little and is grossed out by her own sexuality. When the enchanting character of Dr. Rebecca Saint John is hired at the prison, Eileen is drawn in and becomes entangled in the counselors dark secret.
Upon its release, Eileen was met with praise and accolades. It won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize. Despite all this, Moshfegh kept meeting the same feedback from readers. In an interview with The New Yorker, Moshfegh told Ariel Levy how she will never understand why people were so obsessed with how her character presented to the world. “They wanted me to somehow explain to them how I had the audacity to write a disgusting female character,” she said. “It shocked me how much people wanted to talk about that."
In 2022, with TV shows like Fleabag and films like The Worst Person in the World, unlikeable female leads no longer feel inflammatory. That being said, we're keen to see what flavour Eileen will bring to the genre.
When will the film premiere?
In February 2022, Deadline confirmed that all the filming for the project (which took place in New Jersey) had been completed. Considering this, Eileen could premiere very soon. Although, at this stage we don't have an official release date. Stayed tuned.