The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them is the feature-film debut for director Ned Benson. Originally set up as two longer films, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her, respectively, the film stars Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy.
We open with the knowledge that something horrible has happened to disrupt the lives of Eleanor (Chastain) and Conor (McAvoy). As the story unfolds, it becomes very apparent that an unspeakable tragedy has fallen upon them, and despite at one time appearing deeply and passionately in love with one another. This is essentially the central question of the piece – can two people in love find their way back to one another as they make their way out of a dark place?
Ultimately, that is for the audience to decide, because the ending of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is left very purposely ambiguous.
One of the USPs of the film, besides a stellar main and supporting cast that includes Viola Davis, William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert, Ciaran Hines, and Bill Hader – is the film’s origins. As previously mentioned, the film started its life as two separate films, Him and Her – the same story told uniquely from each member of the couple’s vantage point. In that way, I suppose it is an achievement to take two separate stories and mesh them into one cohesive narrative.
Alas, when all is revealed, I felt a little let down. Sure it’s a sad story, but maybe the level of expectation formed in my mind muddled by reception (as I imagined a totally different direction of the journey of their separation and the possible way back).
And then, again, that ending; I was fine with it, but also acutely aware that others in the audience were clearly not. If it was the aim of the film – to have people question and dialogue about what happens next, I am not sure it is a “mission accomplished.” There is ambiguity that leads to inquiry and debate and then there is that which leads to vexation and indifference. I feel that this may be leaning towards the latter.
So in the end, this is a film bolstered by the performances (an assemblage of amazing talent) and not by the story.
Out of five hearts, I give this one .
Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company