Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen is already emerging as one of the hottest titles at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered on Saturday. The 2015 literary adaptation of Moshfegh’s novel is directed by William Oldroyd, best known for the 2016 film Lady Macbeth.
Eileen stars Thomasin McKenzie in the titular role as a troubled young woman working in a prison, and Anne Hathaway as his new obsession, a mysterious stranger named Rebecca. Early reviews are already raving about the performances of the actors and Moshfegh’s screenplay, prompting demand for further film adaptations of his twisted novels, such as the bestseller My year of rest and relaxation.
When asked whether to do Eileen leaving her eager to adapt more of her books, Moshfegh replied, “I feel so spoiled by this experience. [Co-writer] Luca [Goebel] and I, as a partner, talked about it – only, this seemed like a fateful experience. And all the blood and sweat and tears have now evaporated in this glittering glow and we’re like, ‘We’ll do it a million times more’ [because] it’s so good.
“It has been a real privilege to have the book as such an incredible resource to draw from,” adds McKenzie. “I felt like I got so many answers from the book. I didn’t feel like I needed to drill into Ottessa for clues about Eileen’s character. I felt calmly supported. There was the freedom to take on the role and bring it to life with our own unique twist on it.
“The thing I loved about all of our characters is that we all shared them all,” says Hathaway. “I felt very empowered by how much care was put into the novel. I just turned to Ottessa and said, ‘Can you believe we’re all here because of something your brain has created? Watch this! This is incredible!'”
Hathaway added, speaking of the authenticity of Ottessa’s writing, “There were some little details, descriptors [in the book]. One line that really stood out to me was, “If she seemed insincere, she was.” There were all these things, where if she didn’t give me authority, he gave Rebecca authority to exist.
Rumors of a film version of My year of rest and relaxation have been in a whirl since Moshfegh admitted to working on a script at a id interview during the summer. Margot Robbie’s production company LuckyChap acquired the rights to the material and rumors that Yorgos Lanthimos would be attached to direct remained speculative.