Doppelgänger? – Rediscovering ‘Zoeken naar Eileen’ /Looking for Eileen ( Netherlands 1987 – 98 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - August 02, 2015
Doppelgänger? – Rediscovering ‘Zoeken naar Eileen’ /Looking for Eileen ( Netherlands 1987 – 98 mins)

A surprisingly good movie that’s part thriller, mystery and romance, the Dutch drama ‘Looking for Eileen’ is a sort of modern twist on the tragic story of ‘Tristan and Isolde’, and it made for an unexpectedly enjoyable viewing.

After his wife Marjan (Lysette Anthony) is tragically killed in a road accident, architect Philip de Wit (Thom Hoffman) retreats into himself until one day when a young Irish woman called Eileen walks into his bookshop. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to his dead wife, it transpires that Eileen is running away from her brutish husband and hoping to find her secret lover (and the father of her baby) in Amsterdam. Unable to shake off her likeness to Marjan, Philip is soon drawn into the murky past and dangerous present of this mysterious and beautiful runaway.

More a romance than a thriller, ‘Looking for Eileen’ was a lot better than I expected, and rather compelling. 24 year old Lysette Anthony has never looked more beautiful and she certainly impressed here in dual roles, giving Eileen a convincing Irish accent. Lysette came to prominence in the 1983 fantasy ‘Krull’, and was busy in the popular television sitcom ‘Three Up Two Down’ during this time. She later had a brief spell in Hollywood, working with Woody Allen on ‘Husbands and Wives’ (’92), and in the UK with Colin Firth in the historical drama ‘The Hour of the Pig’ (’93). Most recently Lysette co-starred with Ian Ogilvy in the fun 2014 revenge flick ‘We Still Kill the Old Way’. Acclaimed Dutch actor Thom Hoffman was very good as the grieving Philip, and came across very likable. Hoffman has continued to work steadily, co-starring more recently in Paul Verhoeven’s WWII thriller ‘Black Book’ (’06).

Director Rudolf van den Berg handled the mystery element well, and went on to make the exciting thriller ‘The Cold Light of Day’ (’96) with Richard E. Grant and Lyndsey Baxter. Van den Berg also co-wrote the screenplay which was based on Dutch writer Leon de Winter’s 1981 novel ‘Zoeken naar Eileen W’.

I liked the way the movie referenced various works of art and literature while also depicting the seedy world of vice and drugs in Amsterdam. There is a tense chase scene in a brothel and a memorable one of a naked Lysette Anthony walking into her bedroom, where she unknowingly strikes a pose similar to a famous image in one of Philip’s art books, an image he had shown her a couple of years before.

A gripping tale of murder, mystery and adultery, ‘Looking for Eileen’ is a very hard to find movie, but one that is well worth seeking out. While I expected a twist ending, it didn’t come, although it still had a very satisfying wrap-up, making it a minor gem that needs another lease of life.

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