With Come On Eileen now officially released onto DVD, Velveteer Paulyne brings you all a review of the film. With this feature having the heavy inclusion of many TVO regulars, we gave it a watch to bring you a warts-and-all look at the film.
Eileen (played by Jackie Howe) was an aspiring dancer previous to becoming a single mother and now a reformed alcoholic. She is still in her younger-self mindset and plays the role of the ’embarrassing mum’ who is detached from today’s young society. With references to Gameboys and talk about todays ‘music scene’ with her teenage son (who wants to attend a music festival that becomes one of the main subject matter for most of the family throughout), the character set-up does play up to several stereotypes but establishes clear family roles nonetheless.
Early on some of the information you are given becomes a bit heavy (we find that Eileen has been lying about who her daughter’s real father is), but then it is never returned to later in the plot and the distraught daughter returns to her mum – presumably a day later – with no reference to the bombshell. The point of the conversation does clearly convey the dishonestly between the mother and daughter, but as we are left with no reference back to it there is no realism to their relationship. The characters around Eileen have potential to be explored further in-depth, but without this it means that the film lacks a strong third act. Even when we find that Eileen’s daughter may be pregnant, this is again never returned to until the end, and at that point it’s hard to find the feeling to care.
Eileen is unlikable from the get-go, which may be intentional but makes it difficult to follow the journey of a character who shows a complete lack of depth. Once she relapses from being teetotal for a number of years, the catalyst moment is overly dramatised which makes it more soap-opera than anything else.
The background of her life prior to her relapse is also left quite sketchy but from what is picked up from the vague information that is given, it seems that the film would have benefited from focusing on how her children and the people around her are handling the situation. So we follow Eileen, who we’re seeing causing rifts with everyone around her, yet we don’t dig deeper into how it is affecting everyone else.
The final third of the feature becomes a whole lot more interesting, especially for us at TVO. The previously mentioned festival to the watchful eye is Booshfest for one! While the rest of the film is set at this famous event from nearly 4 years ago, we see a stellar snippet of Robots In Disguise performing a set at the festival (although from what I can see, the performance shown is from T in the Park) and Julia Davis is brought in later on to comfort Eileen during her relapse. Davis plays the role of an Irish friend who is having problems with her ex and gives a real and genuine performance – the character might be a likeable, sweet woman but sadly it’s hard to see the point of this entire scene.
Eileen’s daughter is a burlesque dancer (played by Mercedes Gower who has made an appearance in The Mighty Boosh’s Priest & The Beast) and Noel Fielding is introduced as her boyfriend – a drug-loving, drunk rock star who is to headline the festival. He arranges for Gower to perform at the festival too and the tent that we find her performing in is excitingly, The Velvet Onion tent!
Overall the film has potential to be a heart-wrenching and yet light-hearted movie about the trials and errors of a single mother and her family. It’s understandable why certain big names were attracted to the story (a great cameo from Keith Allen as Eileen’s ex-husband) but the dialogue can seem 2-dimensional and unrealistic. It ends on an anti-climax, making you wonder whether there was meant to be a build up to anything, and although being true to life, Eileen’s second reformation seems slightly too easy and we don’t see any difficulty or restraint from her to quit her drinking once again.
We at the Velvet Onion are obviously encouraging of independent artists and the home-made quality in something is always exciting to see. When watching Come On Eileen and knowing that this film was made on a micro-budget and with such recognizable faces from the Booshdom, it’s a joy to watch from that perspective.