The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
Director: Ned Benson
Writer: Ned Benson
Cast: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Nina Arianda, Viola Davis, Bill Hader, Ciarán Hinds, Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, Jess Weixler
Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) used to be the perfect couple. But something happened and now they’re not. Eleanor is distant and doesn’t want any contact with Conor and Conor has trouble respecting that boundary. But Eleanor isn’t as done with Conor as it might seem at first and the question remains whether they can find back to each other or not.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby was good but not as great as it could have been. I expected a little more from the concept – TDoER: Them is a cut based on two films, TDoER: Him, which tells events from his perspective, and TDoER: Her, which tells them from hers. But the splice generally feels a little uneven.
I have only seen the Them version and not the two other films and because of the trailer and a comment I read online, I expected Them to consist of a whole lot of split-screens Maybe like Conversations with Other Women, at least in part. But there is not a single split-screen in the entire film which was honestly a little disappointing – I think that it could have worked pretty wonderfully, and it would have been awesome to get the side-by-side comparison of certain scenes. For that reason, it would have been interesting to get to see the Him and Her versions as well, but unfortunately only Them was released in Austria.
But even though I was wishing for the other two versions while watching this one, the Them-edit isn’t without its strengths. The story is nothing special, but especially because Conor and Eleanor are not that extraordinary a couple (although from a very privileged background), you feel a strong connection with them. In fact, the more dramatic elements of the story, especially the reason for their break-up and the dramatic way it is handled with its slow revelation, is the part that rings least true about the film.
But the film’s biggest strength is certainly its cast. James McAvoy is great, and it is amazing who else all appears basically just as the backdrop of the film. But it is Jessica Chastain who steals every single moment of the film. If I hadn’t loved her before seeing this film, I totally would love her now.
The relationship between Conor and Eleanor is also very well done. The flashbacks to their happy times are wonderful and as you get to see those, you realize how much must have happened to see those two drift apart so much – and you start wishing they hadn’t. Which gives the ending a hopeful tinge, even though there is no actual resolution.