The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her & Him
A husband and wife struggle to redefine their roles in each other’s lives when the world they’ve built together crumbles around them. The simple, compelling premise of writer/director Ned Benson’s screenplay gave the first time feature filmmaker enough material for not one, but three films. That’s not to say that The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby constitutes a traditional trilogy, though. Instead, each film places us within the same timeframe, telling the story from a different perspective: Hers, his, and theirs.
Ultimately the most concise of the three films, Them, has opened to wider release, whereas the longer, more experimental Her and Him will only screen in select theaters beginning October 10. It’s too bad, though, because Her and Him really drive at the heart of what the Benson is trying to do with this work: To show the way grief isolates us, distorting our perception of events so that even when two people share an experience, their memories of that experience are bound to differ.
“Memory is so fucking weird,” Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) sighs in one of Her’s most poignant scenes, effectively summing up one of the film’s main messages. Though technically separate entities, Her and Him are meant to be watched in one sitting. Each film draws out scenes from Them, taking its time to flesh out two characters so richly inhabited by James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain as they navigate the streets of New York City. The films boast an excellent supporting cast as well, with Viola Davis and Jess Weixler in standout roles as Eleanor’s professor and sister, respectively. Ciarán Hinds and William Hurt work beautifully as the fathers of Conor (McAvoy) and Eleanor, capturing their struggle to support the two while also confronting their own grief.