09.10.13

The Playlist has published their review for ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby’. As if we didn’t need to be more excited and curious about the movie. Check some excerpts:

Filmmaker Ned Benson has been working on his “Eleanor Rigby” project for over 7 years. Having met Jessica Chastain 10 years ago, during a film festival where she saw and fell in love with one of his shorts, the project became something of a passion for the two of them. Chastain’s best friend Jess Weixler became involved and the idea of telling a story about a seismic incident that can topple a strong relationship between a man and a woman began to develop. Chastain has even mentioned that Benson would visit her on set of Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” to write pages of his story and get inspired by Malick’s method (there’s an unmistakable Malickian influence in the tone of “Eleanor Rigby”). What began as a story about a woman, written specifically for Chastain, started to grow into something much deeper and bigger, until Benson realized the potential of a pretty ingenious concept. Telling the same story from two different perspectives: “Him” and “Her.” Benson then took the idea further, screening both versions back-to-back at TIFF, with “Him” first, with the intention that the films be released separately to the public, most likely to give the choice to the viewers on which one they would like to see first.

(…)The story revolves around a couple who have been together for 7 years; Connor (James McAvoy) is a 33-year-old bar-owner and Eleanor (Chastain) is struggling with unhappiness and needs a change. One day, she decides to start from scratch and disappear from Connor’s life, asking him not to contact her nor to try and find her. In “Him”, we follow Connor as he talks to his friends (including his chef played by the priceless Bill Hader) and his father (Cirian Hinds, in a very nuanced and endearing performance), trying to understand the situation and dealing with this incredibly impactful change in his life. In “Her” we see some of the same events that transpired in “Him” but from Eleanor’s vantage point, as she attempts to make some kind of meaningful change in her life with the help of her family (William Hurt and Isabelle Huppert are her parents and Weixler is her sister) and her teacher (Viola Davis, in easily her best role since “The Help”). How do you move on? Where does “you” stop and “us” begin? Can a person truly change? These questions, and more, percolate in Benson’s epic story of love, life, loss, happiness and family.

Perhaps it sounds all a bit too Hallmark (to use one of the characters phrases), and in the hands of some of other less talented artists these kinds of stories nosedive straight into the territory of some bad made-for-cable Lifetime movie. But Benson’s multi-layered, organically paced, delicate and quite often hilarious screenplay holds it all together with wit and . He was also fortunate enough to land the perfect ensemble cast. McAvoy has never been better; obviously comfortable with the role and completely understanding Connor’s confusion, he looks relaxed and is inherently likable from the very first frame. Chastain’s Eleanor is cold and distant compared to Connor, but as the delicate actress that she is, she gives all of herself and delivers another highly nuanced, human character. The rest of the supporting cast, including the perfect fathers Hinds and Hurt, the wine-drinking Huppert going through a “quiet crisis” and the cynically hilarious and gentle soul that is Viola Davis all just add to the strengths of the film.

Read the full review

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