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Film Review: 'The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them'

Jenny Kim |
September 14, 2014 | 12:09 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

(Twitter via @ThePlaylist)
(Twitter via @ThePlaylist)
Nothing is better than James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, William Hurt, Bill Hader, Isabelle Huppert, and Ciarán Hinds together in one movie—except them being together in three movies.

In Ned Benson’s debut feature film, the ambitious director and writer accomplished something that has never been done before. He created three feature-length films all revolving around the same story—a troubled relationship of an emotionally wrought and struggling married couple living in the heart of New York City. Benson, however, deviates from the overused and banal love story and instead explores individuals within the bounds of their emotions, from love to confusion to grief.  He does this by directing a film for both "him" and "her," as well as a film for "them."

The unconventional love story is not the focus in “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” but it is the characters themselves, who also happen to be in love. In its soul-searching exploration of self and identity, Benson’s film has enabled viewers to involve themselves in a cathartic experience that leaves both the characters and the audience vulnerable as they share this journey together.

READ MORE: Interview With Director Ned Benson Of 'The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby'

While posing as the young couple of Conor Ludlow and Eleanor Rigby, James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain must have exposed themselves in order to convey the raw emotion that has been delivered on screen. Right from the start, Benson starts with a somber note, setting the tone for the rest of the film.

Desperate times call for desperate measures for Eleanor Rigby as she attempts to take her life by drowning herself in a river. Rather than confronting her problem, she attempts to run away from it. Though this jumpstarts the film, Benson uses flashbacks of the past from a happier time for the young couple and mixes them with scenes of the present, a troubled time for the now separated couple. Little by little like a puzzle, we piece together the clues to finally comprehend the conflict that has torn apart two people who had been and will, debatably, always be in deep love, although circumstance will prohibit their relationship. 

The complexity of Conor and Eleanor’s relationship cannot be fully understood in just this film. Though it does explore their relationship as an entity, not enough is divulged in this film about each respective character to reach an understanding that viewers long for at the end of the two-hour film. That being said, there are two more films with both his and her perspective that allow the viewers to better acquaint themselves with the characters. However, the somewhat unsatisfying and incomplete nature of the film makes viewers long for more. Whether that is good or bad, you decide. 

READ MORE: Film Review: 'Magic In The Moonlight'

Apart from the storyline and scripted fate of these characters, Benson’s creative choices with the color palette, soundtrack, and cinematography are very well thought-out and appropriate for this film. His film, which is an obvious love letter to the city of New York, has striking similiarites with films by Woody Allen. From the distraught characters to the NYC setting, perhaps Benson has been inspired by Allen's previous works. The neutral color tones upon the vibrant backdrop of New York City creates a pleasant ambiance and symbiosis that boosts the aesthetics of the film, therefore contributing to the dominating emotional factor that is delivered from the actors, which is so seemingly contagious that it affects the environment surrounding their character’s aura. The impressive performance by the actors almost left a tangible emotion of melancholy and gripping desperation in the room. 

From an impressive cast of actors to an innovative and original film concept — Ned Benson truly positively surprised the public with his debut feature film. “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” is an aesthetically crafted and emotionally driven film that explores the complexities of love, and shows to prove that there is in fact, two sides to every story. 

“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them” is out in select theaters now. “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His and Her” is due to premiere on October 10 in select theaters. 

Reach Staff Reporter Jenny Kim here



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