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The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them

PodestriansFilmcast PodestriansFilmcast I like chocolate and I like cheese. Chocolate cheese, on the other hand? Hmm, not so sure. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them feels like chocolate cheese – an amalgamation of two acclaimed parts that seem to fall short when they are brought together.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her were darlings of last year’sToronto film festival. As two separate films they essentially told the story of the aftermath of a marriage that appeared to have irretrievably imploded following the death of the couples’ infant child. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them is the collected and edited (one hour stripped off) intermeshing of the Him and Her perspectives.But unfortunately it appears that the new film is not as strong as the sum of its parts.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them tells the story of Conor (JamesMcAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) as they attempt to deal with the death of their infant child. Eleanor attempts suicide and Conor inhabits the fictional world like someone that is half-dead – unable to focus on his life and desperately trying to recapture the life that he had with Eleanor. Eleanor moves in with her family following the suicide attempt and makes some attempt to get on with her life. She attends university and thinks about escaping to Paris to continue her postgraduate studies. Conor owns a restaurant that is failing and has neither the composure nor the wherewithal to turn the ship around. They both seem to be floating, almost numb to the world that is going on around them. It feels like Lars von Trier’s Antichrist without the log cabin. And the castration… the Lars von Trierness, I guess.

But like the characters, the film itself feels somewhat empty. It lacks a certain cohesiveness and perhaps has become disjointed since the arranged marriage ofthe two parts. The film seems overly weighted in the direction of the wonderful Jessica Chastain and this gives her a fantastic opportunity to flourish. And she does. But what is given to Chastain is taken away from McAvoy and this leads to the (great) Scot being disenfranchised. Not only is McAvoy not given a chance to shine, his character is not given room to develop and this leaves the viewer with a distinct lack of empathy for Conor. We only really form an opinion of him based on the actions and dialogue of Eleanor. It’s pretty disappointing and creates a fairly big chasm in the film. Likewise, Conor’sfriend Stuart (played by Bill Hader) comes across as completely superfluous. He is in some scenes, but we are not sure why. He is never given the chance to develop as a character and is never given the chance to work as a soundingboard for Conor. It is completely imbalanced.

TheDisappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them is a slow burner that never quite gets going. Like the song, it promises to look at all the lonely people, but unfortunately that is all it ever does – look.

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