Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them [2014]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (2 Stars) (3 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (J. Hessenger) review

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them [2014] (written and directed by Ned Benson) is a gleefully convoluted tragedy / romance that could perhaps put some weary smiles on faces who don't necessarily have a lot to do this Valentine's Day. 

This is because the film was initially conceived as a pair of films each telling the film's story from the perspective of one of the two lead characters -- Eleanor Rigby (played by Jessica Chastain) and her partner/husband Coner Ludlow (played by James McAvoy). 

To quickly answer the obvious question, yes, Eleanor's parents in the film -- the Bohemian, formally Parisian, and still French accented Marie (played by Isabelle Huppert) and the Professorial (he is indeed is a Psych professor) Julian Rigby (played by William Hurt) -- did name her after the famous (and rather sad) Beatles song [YoutTube].  On the other side of the coin, the song doesn't necessarily inform much with regards to the film's story (other than that the film's story is also often rather sad).  Perhaps it's just a reminder to us that sometimes people do rather stupid or random things like name their kids after characters in stories or songs that _may_ then at least partly condemn them to live-out the story of the character depicted in the story / song.

Anyway, the original conception of this film project was to produce two parallel films that would would depict the same story (a rather sad one actually) from the perspective of two different characters.  There were originally His / Hers versions of the film.  When film was bought after the Toronto Film Festival in 2013, the production company that bought it decided that since the films repeated many of the same events in the story, that it would prefer that a single tale, a "Them" version, be released instead.  That's the version that's available on Amazon Instant Video (and reviewed here ;-).  I would suspect that the DVD would offer all three versions ;-).

Alright so what's the story about? 

Well, we meet the two lead characters, Eleanor and Conor, both in their early 3os, both clearly in love, in some New York restaurant.  And in the next scene, we see Eleanor riding her bike on the Brooklyn Bridge on one sunny day, stopping, leaning her bike against the fence, walking about 30 feet further from the bike and (apparently) climbing over the fence and jumping (we hear the splash).  The next shot we see is her being recovered (she did survive) by NYPD and taken to a hospital. 

What the heck happened?  Well, I'm not going to tell you ;-).  What I am going to tell you is that the story, progressively revealed does reveal a tragedy that could lead a thirty something woman to try to commit suicide and, to the film's credit, the story does involve more than just the two lead characters.  For instance, both sets of parents, hers already mentioned above and his, or at least his dad, a restauranteur named Spencer Ludlow (played by Ciarán Hinds) are quite important in the story and developed characters as are also other friends, family and coworkers.  

So this is an intelligently told story and one that from its very structure (again there are THREE versions) invites viewers to enter into it.

Anyway if yourselves so disposed on weekend, it's not a bad interpersonal story / romance / and at least partly tragedy to look-up ;-).  And again at least the "Them" version is available for a reasonable price on Amazon Instant Video.

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