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The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
R....122 min.....Drama

disappearance of eleanor rigby

disappearance of eleanor rigby
Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Viola Davis,
Nina Arianda, Bill Hader, Jess Weixler,
Isabelle Huppert, Ciarán Hinds, William Hurt
disappearance of eleanor rigby

SYNOPSIS: Once happily married, Conor (McAvoy) and Eleanor (Chastain) suddenly find themselves as strangers longing to understand each other in the wake of tragedy. The film explores the couple’s story as they try to reclaim the life and love they once knew and pick up the pieces of a past that may be too far gone. Screened for the first time at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Benson’s latest version of their story combines his previous two films — titled HIM and HER — uniting their perspectives and taking a further look into the subjectivity of relationships.

Sometimes, love is not all you need. In his nonlinear romantic tragedy The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, writer/director Ned Benson explores the breakdown and breakup of Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) and Conor (James McAvoy), a couple whose all-consuming love once blurred their individual limits, and whose estrangement rendered each adrift.

Romance plays second fiddle to emotional exploration in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them. Wistful remembrances of ardor lost serve primarily to demonstrate present distance (emotional and physical), while Eleanor and Conor struggle to redefine themselves on their own terms. And Benson’s visually-rich style does much to intensify the narrative’s already-heightened feelings — for example, by using shaky camera to accentuate a character’s unsteady feelings.

Though the nature of the tragedy that divides Eleanor and Conor is best left unspoiled — to allow unsullied viewing of Benson’s intricately crafted narrative arc — it suffices to say that their split is not one of pettiness or spite, and neither is happier for it. The intensity of their once intimately joyous love haunts the devastating emptiness each feels in the wake of its loss.

disappearance of eleanor rigby

For the one of three perspectives (Her, His, and Them) whose name implies the most objective point of view, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them does not, in fact, provide equally balanced looks at its protagonists. Instead, its focus rests primarily on Eleanor. This choice often relegates Conor to moments of reaction (rather than sua sponte action), and renders his character less complete than hers.

Chastain transcends the bounds of the ‘normal’ emotional spectrum, and radiates brilliance at new highs and lows. McAvoy manages to simultaneously exude complete despair and abject anger. Viola Davis, on the other hand, provides well-executed comic relief, frequently eliciting audible laughs despite her character’s non-traditional sense of humor.

If you only like your romances to end happily ever after, this one’s not for you. If, however, you’re open to in-depth analysis of what makes us tick (individually and in relation to others) with a side of romance — and another tour de force from Jessica Chastain — then The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them is an intriguing viewing experience eminently worthy of your consideration.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them opens nationwide
on Friday, September 19.

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disappearance of eleanor rigby
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Featured Image (Photo: Sarah Shatz) and Poster: © 2014 The Weinstein Company

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The Author

Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

Born-and-bred New Yorker. Lifelong film & TV lover—from chick flicks, rom-coms, rom-droms, rom-drams, and tweentertainment, to Shakespeare, period pieces, James Bond, fairy tales, and mafia movies.