SFF Review: The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (HER)

What is it about?

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, if you’re unaware, is about a married couple who are dealing with their separation and the aftermath of a traumatic incident. However, the story is split up into two full-length feature films, with one told from the perspective of Eleanor Rigby (Jessica Chastain) and the other told from the perspective of her husband, Conor Ludlow (James McAvoy).

What is it like?

There’s a lot to like in this film, the performances of both the main and supporting cast in particular. Chastain‘s performance of a lost, broken woman is extraordinary as it is infuriating and heartbreaking to watch; infuriating to watch her walk down the road to self-destruction and unable to reach out. She’s cold, choosing to re-imagine and redefine herself after the tragedy (that we will not name, it’s best to discover it on your own), allowing the film’s title, her disappearance, to become a metaphorical one to evoke her journey to rediscovery of who she is.
McAvoy‘s brief appearance as Conor, a man who seems to be coping just fine, should also be commended in particular for his last few scenes in the film and for his flawless American accent.
It’s a testament to the chemistry between Chastain and McAvoy, considering their characters spend relatively little on-screen time together, that the audience is really able to get a full sense of their frayed and damaged relationship.
The supporting cast of William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert and Viola Davis all add to the strength of the film.
Special commendations should be awarded to cinematographer Christopher Blauveldt for being able to capture a dreamlike, hazy-yet-beautiful New York City.
Director Ned Benson handles the film expertly, able to make the various on-screen relationships (husband and wife, parents and daughters, sister and sister) feel lived-in and true, despite occasionally taking the dialogue into the dangerous shallow waters of pretentiousness, instead of the deep oceans of meaningfulness and poetry that he was aiming for.

So, should you see it?

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a challenging and ambitious task. To be able to make two films each showcasing differing points-of-view, characters and perspectives but also to be able to make them sync with the other in an almost ying-yang fashion is one that not many filmmakers could achieve to a high degree of excellence or distinction. Ned Benson does a fine job and though there is room for improvement, ‘Her is worth watching for the performances alone.

I am very much looking forward to seeing ‘Him‘ in a few days.

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