Come on Eileen


“I used to drink—a bit too much, actually,” confesses Eileen (Jackie Howe), an ex-dancer who tends bar at a north London cricket club, to Bill (Stephen Taylor), a pothead former cricketer, in the opening minutes of actress Finola Geraghty’s uneven debut feature. The two hit it off, and soon the good-natured Bill comes over and attempts to charm Eileen’s two children—Jimmy (Felix Malcolm Still), preparing for exams and looking forward to attending a big summer music festival, and Gypsy (Mercedes Grower), who gets a gig performing her “slapstick burlesque” at the same festival while her rocker-caricature boyfriend (Noel Fielding) is set to headline. Eileen has a glass of champagne to mark a romantic occasion, and the floodgates open: She begins downing wine by the bottle, stumbling, eyes heavy-lidded, from one unbeknownst-to-her humiliation to the next (early on, she takes over the dancefloor at a children’s birthday party). Jimmy makes good on his threat to leave home if she doesn’t stop drinking, and from there, Eileen, in full recrimination mode, spirals to rock bottom—before all roads converge on the perimeter of the festival. Come on Eileen is a bit less dire than one might expect from a family drama that doubles as alcoholism case study—and the easy interplay between Howe and Taylor makes Eileen’s fall off the cliff that much more devastating—but the film betrays an eager crowd-pleaser’s impulse toward on-the-nose dialogue and resolution on command.

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