7 Movies Like Eileen (2023)

Staff & contributors

The concepts of roads not taken and domino effects have received plenty of cinematic attention in their showier forms by way of multiverse comic book movies and dimension-hopping films like Everything Everywhere All At Once. But, though there’s no hint of sci-fi in Past Lives, Celine Song’s gentle film can count itself as one of the best treatments of that universe-spawning question: “what if?”

When her family moves from Seoul to Canada, teenage Na Young bids a loaded farewell to classmate Hae Sung and changes her name to Nora. Years later, they reconnect online and discover the spark still burns between them. This is no idealistic romance, though: Past Lives is told with sober candor. Song acknowledges real obstacles standing in the way of a relationship between the two — those pragmatic (distance) and, more painfully, personal (evolving personalities, American husbands).

Those two threads — unrealized romance and the transmutation of identity that so often takes place after migrating — are expertly entwined in Past Lives to produce a sublime, aching meditation on memory and time, practical love and idealistic romance, and all the complex contradictions that exist in between. That Song communicates so much and so delicately in only her first film makes Past Lives all the more stunning.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: An Min-yeong, Chang Ki-ha, Chase Sui Wonders, Choi Won-young, Emily Cass McDonnell, Federico Rodriguez, Greta Lee, Hwang Seung-eon, Isaac Powell, Jack Alberts, Jane Yubin Kim, John Magaro, Jojo T. Gibbs, Kristen Sieh, Moon Seung-a, Moon Seung-ah, Seo Yeon-woo, Teo Yoo, Yim Seung-min, Yoon Ji-hye

Director: Celine Song

Rating: PG-13

Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell got a lot of free reign with her debut, Promising Young Woman, which was a slightly modest ordeal even with a lead of Carrey Mulligan's calibre. But now, with her sophomore film, she go to have some fun. Assembling a devout cast of particularly skilled actors—Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, and Mulligan again—seems like an obvious decision, but the mix of them all is unlike anything we've seen before. A class satire, a psychological thriller, and a psychosexual drama, Saltburn is high class entertainment, with a snappy script, and many tricks up its sleeve. Brace yourselves for some bath-action, grave-action, and full-moon-menstrual-action and many other scenes you may have not ever pictured shown on the screen. Actually, it's impossible to prepare for a film like this one, but being open certainly helps digest the shock and provocations that are there for you to behold.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Alison Oliver, Andy Brady, Archie Madekwe, Barry Keoghan, Carey Mulligan, Dorothy Atkinson, Ewan Mitchell, Glyn Grimstead, Jacob Elordi, Joshua McGuire, Lolly Adefope, Matthew Carver, Paul Rhys, Reece Shearsmith, Richard E. Grant, Rosamund Pike, Sadie Soverall, Seth MacFarlane, Shaun Dooley

Director: Emerald Fennell

Rating: R

Rye Lane knows it’s treading familiar ground by having its charming leads fall in love as they walk and talk their way through a beautiful city. So instead of experimenting on a tried-and-tested setup, it smartly focuses on specificity. It hones in on the characters’ Gen Z woes and cranks up the British references, giving itself character and charm for days. It also finds other ways to be inventive as it trades plot twists for bold editing and camerawork. Rye Lane is a refreshing entry into romcom cinema, but it is also obviously a big fan of it as it holds plenty of homages and subversions of the genre. This one is made for and by romcom fans, and it's always nice to see a modern love story set during our times.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Alice Hewkin, Benjamin Sarpong-Broni, Colin Firth, David Jonsson, Delroy Brown, Gary Beadle, George Taylor, Karene Peter, Levi Roots, Llewella Gideon, Malcolm Atobrah, Marva Alexander, Michael Dapaah, Munya Chawawa, Omari Douglas, Raine Allen-Miller, Sandra Daley, Simon Manyonda, Vivian Oparah, Yasmin Al-Khudhairi

Director: Raine Allen-Miller

Rating: R

Although limited by the timeframe in which it was released—that is, before its characters really got to finish organizing themselves in response to the film's subject matter—Aftershock still provides a detailed primer on the ways the American healthcare system has been manipulated to take advantage of the underprivileged. The documentary can get technical but since it grounds its reporting on two tragic stories of preventable loss, there's more than enough reason to pay full attention. It definitely isn't meant to answer every question about pregnancy care, but it definitely compels deeper inquiry into the ways we've been socialized into perceiving romantic notions about childbirth.

Genre: Documentary

Director: Paula Eiselt, Tonya Lewis Lee

Painfully intimate and told with very, very little dialogue, All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt resembles the experience of flipping through a photo book and pausing to admire every page. Which is to say that this is a film that requires not only one's complete attention but—like many other arthouse dramas—a willingness to sit with the mundane until it reveals something more profound. The nearly silent nature of its storytelling can be a little awkward, given how lifelike the rest of the movie is, but one should hopefully get used to the idea that this is an attempt to represent something closer to memory than reality. Whether or not the experience sticks or strikes an emotional chord, it's all beautifully put together, with lush cinematography, impeccably detailed sound design, and thoughtful sequencing of one image after another.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Charleen McClure, Chris Chalk, Kaylee Nicole Johnson, Moses Ingram, Reginald Helms Jr., Sheila Atim, Zainab Jah

Director: Raven Jackson

Rating: PG

Plenty of missing people stories don’t get resolved, so understandably, all their loved ones can do is contemplate the potential horrors that could have happened to them, like being lost and needing to survive, or being kidnapped, or, of course, being dead. Primbon is a story where a missing girl returns home, though her return seems suspicious, at least, according to Javanese superstition. So much could have been made with this premise. They could have delved into Rana’s possible trauma from the reason she was lost, or the way these superstitions hinder these victims from receiving help from others. The film at least shines during the moments between Dini, her mom, and Rana, as they try to get back to normal. But in prioritizing the family, Primbon is torn between being a family drama versus being a supernatural horror film, and ultimately fails at being both.

Genre: Horror

Actor: Azela Putri, Chicco Kurniawan, Flavio Zaviera, Happy Salma, Jajang C. Noer, Nugie, Whani Darmawan

Director: Rudy Soedjarwo

Though it'll likely have more to offer for those who enjoyed the original Nickelodeon series that ran from 2014 to 2018, The Thundermans Return still does mournfully little with its feature length. There are some promising ideas here relating to what one's responsibility should be as members of a family, but any heart in the story is buried underneath weak attempts at action and painfully stilted humor—which is only made worse by the laugh track running through much of the film. Even in the oversaturated arena of American superhero movies, this one doesn't have relatable enough characters for teenagers and older kids to relate to, nor does it have enough mindless, poorly shot action for the younger kids.

Genre: Action, Action & Adventure, Comedy, Family, Kids, Science Fiction, TV Movie

Actor: Adam Kulbersh, Addison Riecke, Aubrey K. Miller, Audrey Whitby, Brady Amaya, Brandon Papo, Brittany Bardwell, Chevonne Hughes, Chris Tallman, Christina Offley, Dana Snyder, Daniele Gaither, Diego Velázquez, Fletcher Sheridan, Guy Moon, Harvey Guillén, Helen Hong, Jack Griffo, Jake Borelli, James Hong, Jamie Kaler, Jamieson Price, Jeff Meacham, Jennifer Hale, John Sanders, Kenny Ridwan, Kira Kosarin, Malcolm Foster Smith, Maya Le Clark, Michael Wayne Foster, Paul F. Tompkins, Robin Atkin Downes, Rosa Blasi, Tanner Stine, Valerie Loo

Director: Trevor Kirschner