SFF Review: The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (HIM)

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?

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him focuses on the perspective of Conor Ludlow, the husband of Eleanor Rigby, played by Scottish actor James McAvoy. Much like its counterpart, there is a lot to like about this film. The performances are extraordinary, McAvoy shines particularly brightly as the grief-stricken husband trying to keep his restaurant afloat while his wife has left him. The supporting cast of Bill Hader, Ciarán Hinds and the brief appearances of Jessica Chastain are phenomenal.
The film is shot wonderfully, a dreamlike perfect New York City landscape and its score and music is wonderful. The story moves along in a more straight-forward fashion than what Her does, though director Ned Benson does manage to add in a few flashbacks here and there and a lovely, heart-wrenching scene where McAvoy witnesses a young couple doing a dine-and-dash from his restaurant, a beautiful mirroring to the opening scene of the film where Chastain and McAvoy are doing a dine-and-dash of their own.
However, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her work better as a standalone films than they do in tandem with the other. There are noticeable differences in dialogue, in story and in continuity; characters will be saying or doing something completely different in the scenes that crossover in both films. Perhaps this is Benson’s intention of letting the audience feel that they’re not paying to see an exact copy of the other films, but it does lead me to wonder if we are actually seeing two different perspectives, or if we’re actually seeing completely different outcomes.
The ending of Him is unsatisfying compared to the ending of Her, which was a particularly beautiful ending with fantastic camera and shot work. Him doesn’t feel like it really ends, it doesn’t give the audience any closure. But that is not to say that the film isn’t wonderful.

So, should you see it?

Absolutely. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her are an astonishing and beautiful set of films. As a personal recommendation, I would suggest watching Him and then watching Her, though Ned Benson has said that the films do not need to be watched in any particular order.


 


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