The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a 2013 three-film series written and directed by Ned Benson, starring James MacAvoy and Jessica Chastain. The films are split into three perspectives: Him, Her, and Them. The films are about a married couple struggling with grief over the death of their son and their relationship falling apart. This review is about Her, which focuses on Eleanor (Chastain) after she has left her husband to figure out her life on her own while grieving.
Chastain excels at bringing emotional vulnerability and rawness to Eleanor, a woman who has undergone a major loss in her life, trying to remake her life. She attempts suicide by jumping off a bridge, moves back in with her parents, cuts her hair, enrolls in a college course, and develops a friendship with her professor, Lilian Friedman (Viola Davis). She remains distant from her husband, and only really confronts him when he has been watching her from afar, trying to make a connection with her again.
It is an interesting and complex look at a woman trying to survive after the loss of her child, and being wracked by depression and anger. She either lashes out at her parents (William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert) or keeps herself secluded. It is her own path to recovery, and she must go through it while learning how to connect with people again.
Some of the most effective scenes in the film are the ones where Eleanor is building or re-building trusting relationships with close ones. Eleanor finds a friend in Lilian, who has a non-maternal attitude towards life, and has accepted loss and handles it with grit and humor. Eleanor re-builds her relationship with her sister Katy (Jess Weixler), who is a single mom with anxieties about dating again. And Eleanor and Conor’s relationship, which is shown in both playfully romantic flashback scenes and in emotionally wrought present-day scenes after her disappearance.
Chastain is a fantastic actress who highly excels at drama and playing complicated women, and her star has risen far since her breakthrough performances in 2011. She continues to shine this year in films like The Martian and Crimson Peak, and is coming into her prime in her late thirties. She is really interesting to watch as an actor, and I like seeing how she continues to excel in a variety of films.
Similarly, James MacAvoy is an acclaimed actor who still seems to fall below the radar in some ways. Perhaps it is because he looks boyish in his late thirties, or he maintains a private life with his family and doesn’t go for celebrity. Still, he is an extremely talented and versatile actor who is always intriguing to watch onscreen.
These films are an ambitious experiment in presenting two POVs of a relationship after trauma, and with a great script by Ned Benson, a talented supporting cast, and solid performances by MacAvoy and Chastain, it is definitely worth a watch.Andrew (Starr), an affable and laid-bac