The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday February 3, 2015

"The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby" is a three-part film consisting of three self-contained features that compliment each other and remarkably tell one story via three separate POVs: "Them," "Him" and "Her."

Writer-director Ned Benson's debut is a creatively bold and ambitious experiment that requires either a five-hour-plus time commitment, or the patience to wait and watch each version at intervals. I would suggest the latter to see if they hold up as stand alone movies (I'm guessing they do). Binge watching may leave the viewer with too much of a sense of redundancy (my experience). I absolutely loved "Them," but I watched the other installments immediately after and was a bit restless with the repetition. Yet, I am in awe of Benson's detailed attention to certain nuanced and minuscule differences in how the characters remember/perceive the same event, gathering or moment. (For example, a seemingly simple recollection about the child's eyes proves telling.)

The simple yet emotionally and psychologically complex story is about how a relationship is shattered and truly put to the test when a couple loses their child. Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) and Connor (James McAvoy) deal with the tragedy in their own way and the intense love they share must be reexamined.

The ubiquitous Jessica Chastain adds another extraordinary performance to her already overloaded filmic resume as the title character. The fact that this achievement was overlooked during Awards season proves that voting bodies need to look outside the conventional box. In a year where so many bloggers were moaning about a lack of good lead roles for women, here they had three, all by one astonishing actress.

The ubiquitous Jessica Chastain adds another extraordinary performance to her already overloaded filmic resume as the title character. In a year where so many bloggers were moaning about a lack of good lead roles for women, here they had three, all by on

James McAvoy is equally compelling and heartbreaking. And the supporting cast brims with amazing, beginning with Viola Davis, in a welcome comic-relief departure as well as the gifted Ciaran Hinds, Bill Hader, Jess Weixler, William Hurt and the divine Isabelle Huppert.

The intimacy of home theater only enhances the viewing experience and Anchor Bay has done a crackerjack job with a gorgeous visual transfer to Blu-ray.

The lone Special Feature is a too-brief post-NYC-screening Q&A with Chastain and McAvoy where it's obvious the two leads respect each other and even more obvious that McAvoy's a thundering loon. A commentary by Benson would have been quite welcome here.

"The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby" is a daring and exciting cinematic gem that will be savored and revisited by intelligent and discerning film lovers.


"The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby"
Blu-ray
$34.99
http://anchorbayentertainment.com/

Frank J. Avella is a film journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep and a Member of the New York Film Critics Online. Frank is a recipient of the International Writers Residency in Assisi, Italy, a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, and a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship. His short film, FIG JAM, has shown in Festivals worldwide (figjamfilm.com) and won awards. His screenplays (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW) have also won numerous awards in 16 countries. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. https://filmfreeway.com/FrankAvella https://muckrack.com/fjaklute