‘Eileen’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: What Happened To Rebecca And Eileen?


Visually alluring with 60s aesthetics, Eileen unfolds in a small town in Massachusetts where the drudgery of everyday life seems to have taken away everything joyous and colorful. A 24-year-old Eileen secretly waits in her car by the lake, her eyes fixed on the car parked before her. She experiences a rush of sexual pleasure watching the couple in the car make out. Eileen quietly opens the door of her car, scoops up a chunk of slush, and places it between her legs. The sexual tension pent-up within the protagonist and her desire to act on it get things rolling in Eileen. Neither her job nor her personal life had anything interesting going, and her only respite was these little sneaky attempts at sexually relieving herself in public places, which also indicates her desire to be seen and acknowledged. Eileen’s mundane existence drastically changed when Rebecca, the new psychologist at the juvenile correctional facility, entered her life.

Spoiler Alert

Plot Summary: What Happens In The Film?

With her mother passing away and her sister getting married, the responsibility of looking after her father fell upon Eileen. A former police officer, her father suffered from paranoia and often got in trouble for disturbing the neighbors. His alcohol addiction made it all the more intolerable for Eileen to continue living with him. The inside of the house was cluttered and dimly lit. It is important to note how filth dominates the space around Eileen to the point that she starts taking pleasure in it. Eileen’s room was equally messy, with candy wrappers lying all over the floor. It was evident that Eileen had stopped caring; the house was simply a place she returned every night to take naps. She was ready to abandon the place in the blink of an eye, and she only needed a push to do so. Eileen was not good at her job, and her only reason for showing up every day was to escape from her responsibilities and, of course, the paychecks. Eileen’s morning routine involved making a cup of coffee with excess sugar at her desk while staring at Lee Polk, an inmate. She had also developed a fascination with prison guard Randy, and she enjoyed secretly touching herself and imagining wild scenarios involving him. Eileen lived a routine life, waiting for an adventure that would sweep her off her feet.

Dr. Rebecca Saint John, the new psychologist at the facility, was a breath of fresh air to Eileen. Against the dull surroundings, Rebecca’s red car caught Eileen’s attention. Her gloves matched her car, and she confidently strutted through the parking area, donning sunglasses. She was a sight to behold, or at least that is the way Eileen perceived her. Rebecca had instantly become an inspiration in Eileen’s life. Rebecca, a woman confident enough to hold her head high in a room full of men, was almost the definition of perfection for Eileen. She did not expect Rebecca to approach her, and their interaction finally made her feel visible. Rebecca’s presence instantly uplifted Eileen’s mood, and she started to look forward to going to the facility.

Eileen was briefly dumbfounded when Rebecca invited her for a drink, and she agreed to it in an instant. She had already picked up Rebecca’s smoking habit to feel closer to her, and the chance to get to know her beyond their workplace excited her. Eileen’s eyes were painted dark and her lips red, and she wore her mother’s finest clothes to make an impression. Rebecca spoke passionately about her job after a few drinks. She was particularly hung up on the Lee Polk case. Eileen had heard about Polk stabbing his father dead in his sleep and not saying a word after. A part of her could relate to the emotions of the young boy, and she agreed with the same sentiments that Rebecca experienced. The close dance made Eileen feel more hopeful about her relationship with Rebecca. She felt special when Rebecca punched a man who tried to interrupt their dance. She perhaps wondered if Rebecca was her escape route.

Why did Eileen hate her father?

After the night at the bar, Eileen was ecstatic when she went to the facility, only to find that Rebecca was on leave. It became almost impossible for Eileen to cope with her sudden absence, and she spent the entire morning lying on Rebecca’s desk. Rebecca had planted a peck on her lips before bidding her goodbye that night, and Eileen could not get over the moment. She went back inside to smoke Rebecca’s leftover cigarette and drink a glass of martini. She woke up the next morning inside her car with her face lying on her puke. Yet the thought of meeting Rebecca at work kept her going, but alas, she was left disappointed. The only highlight of that morning for Eileen was the gun she was handed. The neighbors had accused her father of pointing his gun in their direction, and the policeman decided it was in everybody’s best interest for Eileen to carry the gun.

When Eileen returned home that evening, she found her father lying on the floor in a pool of blood. She hurried him to the hospital, and on the way, her father stroked her thigh and repeated the name of her sister. As someone who has not read Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen, the scene suggested that her father had sexually assaulted Joanie before, and at that moment, he assumed it was her who was driving the car. It explains why her sister preferred staying away from their father and Eileen’s hatred towards him. He was his usual self after he was discharged from the hospital with minor bandaging. The doctor had informed Eileen that her father would not live long because of his drinking habit. That night, she and her father shared a drink, and as usual, he did not spare a minute to remind her how insignificant she was to the world. He described Eileen as a background character in a film whose decisions never impact the actual storyline. Eileen detested her father, and in her head, she imagined various scenarios of her shooting him dead.

How did Eileen get involved in the Lee Polk case?

Eileen received a call from Rebecca after spending an entire day with no contact. Rebecca wanted Eileen to come down to her place, and once again, she enthusiastically agreed to it. Rebecca’s house was unlike anything Eileen had imagined, but she did not mind the clutter and small space as long as she could spend the evening with Rebecca. If we study Rebecca’s behavior, we can get a hint of what ensued. Rebecca mostly looked like she had everything under control, but that evening, she was messier than ever before. She threw a cat out of her house; she seemed clueless about the corkscrew and proceeded to open the bottle of wine by banging it against the wall. She used cups to pour the wine into, and her ruffled hair further suggested that everything was not alright. She was hesitant when discussing roommates, and her sudden scream was just a loud call for help. Rebecca seemed concerned when Eileen headed to the washroom, and when she returned, all she had to offer was a slab of cheese and a jar of pickles. Eileen was nervous about how she presented herself, and she did not take note of the little details then.

Towards the end of the film, Rebecca explained how the people at the facility were not open to the ideas she presented and thought were necessary to bring about a real change. Eileen had led herself to believe that Rebecca would eventually discuss their relationship, but instead, she mentioned the Lee Polk case again. Rebecca strongly believed that it was impossible that Mrs. Polk slept through the entire incident without ever trying to peek and find out what was going on. Rebecca had called Lee’s mother, Rita, to the facility to find out the truth, but she refused to admit anything. Rebecca had cracked the case when she asked Lee about his relationship with his father, and he confessed that he was his assaulter. Eileen was still hopeful about the conversation leading to an intimate moment, but the spark in her eyes was lost when Rebecca mentioned that she had Mrs. Polk tied to a chair in the basement and that the house was not hers but that of the Polk family.

Eileen headed to the door, but Rebecca begged her to stop. She explained that she had come to visit Rita the previous afternoon in the hopes that she would finally defend her son, but she did not say a word. Even after discussing what her son had confided in her, the mother chose to portray her husband as a saint and abuse Rebecca. She left the house, but she could not stop thinking about the case. Rebecca drove back to the Polk house that night to get a confession after accusing Mrs. Polk of complying with her husband’s torturous ways. The woman attacked Rebecca, and they ended up getting into a fight and falling down the stairs to the basement. Rebecca was afraid that Rita would kill her, so she tied her down to a chair. She tried to interact with her rationally, but Rita refused to cooperate, and she was clueless about dealing with the situation. She called Eileen in the hopes that she would have a friend, a witness, who would help her get out of the pickle and would also assist her in getting a confession from Lee’s mother.

What happened to Eileen?

Eileen decided to help Rebecca, and she pulled her gun out of the glove compartment in the hopes that it would do the trick. There was excitement in Eileen’s eyes when she held the gun in her hand. Perhaps she was glad that Rebecca chose her to be a part of an important moment in her life. Mrs. Polk refused to cooperate after the tie was removed from her mouth. She had no reason to be afraid of the two women in the room, but that was before Eileen pointed her gun at her. Mrs. Polk agreed to confess, fearing for her life. She admitted that all these years, she had known that her husband repeatedly raped their son. She initially assumed that Mitch checked on Lee every day, but one night, when she woke up, she saw the shocking truth. But instead of protecting her son, Rita chose to live with it. Knowing the truth and choosing not to react was not easy for her, but she did it in the hopes of keeping her husband close to her. After she found out his secret, he was more relieved, and he showed more affection to her. She preferred to live in her bubble rather than take a step against her husband.

During Eileen‘s ending, the titular character loses control of herself and shoots Mrs. Polk. She was upset upon learning the truth, and she possibly could relate to the scenario. Rita screamed at the top of her lungs, and Rebecca and Eileen forced her to swallow tranquilizing pills to knock her out. Just as Rebecca was coping with the sudden twist in their situation, she soon realized that Eileen had built a castle in the air. Eileen proposed that they take Mrs. Polk to her house and frame her father for the murder of the woman. The suggestion took Rebecca by surprise, and she realized how obsessed Eileen was with her when she added that they could escape to New York to celebrate New Year’s Eve together. More than anything, Rebecca was scared of how relaxed Eileen was given the situation and how she, without hesitation, was ready to see her father behind bars. Eileen, too, needed help, which is perhaps what Rebecca thought at that moment, but in a way, she was relieved that she did not have to deal with the situation anymore.

Eileen interpreted the situation as a way to escape from her reality. She would no longer have to deal with her father, and she could spend her life with Rebecca by her side. After loading Rita into Eileen’s car, Rebecca suggested that Eileen head home while she cleaned the house to get rid of all evidence; she promised to meet Eileen at her house. Eileen reached home and waited for Rebecca, but there was no sign of her. It became evident to Eileen that she was alone on the journey. Instead of framing her father, Eileen decided to drive the unconscious Rita to the forest. She left the engine running, and we can assume that the smoke eventually killed her. Eileen walked through the forest and ended up on the highway. She stopped a truck and was ready to hitchhike her way to New York. There was a smile on Eileen’s face at the end of the film; she was glad that she could finally escape. Eileen had always wanted to run away, and the situation somehow forced her to step out of her comfort zone. She did not have Rebecca by her side, but it was no longer important. She was prepared to live on her own terms at last, though it remains to be seen if her life lived up to her high expectations.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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