Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Movie Review - The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)
Starring Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Nina Arianda, Viola Davis, Bill Hader, Ciarán Hinds, Isabelle Huppert, and William Hurt
Directed by Ned Benson

I can't deny that The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them teeters on slow-paced boredom at many times throughout its run time.  However, at its heart is an interesting glimpse at how one married couple deals with a horrible tragedy.  After being ripped apart as they find the need to deal with the aftermath in different ways, can they ever be reunited in love?  However, rather than place a large amount of emphasis on the tragedy (which is admittedly mentioned only in passing a few times and only takes center stage in one quiet, yet power-packed scene), first-time director and screenwriter Ned Benson instead pushes his lens into the depth of what pulls apart and pushes together a couple that cares deeply for one another.

Interestingly enough, the entire summary of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them is pretty much encapsulated in that opening paragraph.  As we get to know Eleanor and Conor (Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy), we realize that the couple who seemed so lovingly enraptured with one another in the film's opening scene have suddenly been torn apart by the time scene #2 rolls around.  There's a lot of quiet contemplation and friends and family try to help both deal with the estrangement, but the film is really about time for reflection -- for determining what is really wanted from life.  Chastain and McAvoy are both quite good in a film that's all about their relationship but features less than five scenes with them actually together.  It's an interesting concept that doesn't quite come together, but it certainly isn't for lack of trying on the actors' part.

It's the slow burn of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them that brings the thing down a bit.  I'm all for a slower pace in romantic films as it allows us to further get to know the characters, but here the heaviness of the proceedings start to wear on the process about halfway through.  Ned Benson's concept behind The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is actually quite an interesting one.  He actually made two films -- The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her.  Both were released in theaters in sort of a double feature, with Him obviously focusing on Conor's reactions to their relationship and Her concerning itself with Eleanor.  To be somewhat commercially viable, Benson created Them which clocks in at two hours -- about an hour and ten minutes less than Him and Her combined.  With the pacing of Them being what it is, I'll admit that I'm not quite sure I'd have been able to handle a viewing of Him and Her.  Once again, this isn't a bad film by any means, but it's just a bit too heavy to be enjoyable.  

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

1 comment:

  1. I was fairly interested in seeing the Him/Her construct, which is why I think I'll avoid seeing the mash-up. I admittedly wasn't prowling too thoroughly for it--but I don't think this came out near me. unfortunately.