The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is not your cliché, mellow romance movie. Its flawless actors, meaningful dialogue, and gentle setting, combine to generate a heart-aching film that’s presented in a fresh, inventive way. Even from the title, one can assume that the movie is going to be well crafted and encompass an antique touch. “Eleanor Rigby,” a classic song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, puts emphasis on loneliness and life’s triviality. Such hidden messages and profound meanings are consistent throughout The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, as it is composed of three separate films: Him, Her, and Them. Each film provides insight into the respective character’s perspective, overwhelming the audience with more thought and emotion than any other single movie could present. All three films include a set amount of repetitive scenes, but personal thoughts and experiences that cannot be fully explained in Them are perfectly crafted within Him and Her.
Written and directed by Ned Benson, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby features Jessica Chastain from Interstellar who acted as Murphy and James McAvoy from X-Men who acted as Professor Charles Xavier. From the start, the casting foreshadows a respectable outcome. And it surely shines through. In Rigby, Jessica Chastain, as Eleanor Rigby, and James McAvoy, as Conor Ludlow, are a married couple suffering – but slowly overcoming – a life changing loss. After a suicide attempt, Eleanor Rigby, as the title infers, disappears. The couple drifts apart amidst the tragedy that they are facing, and the movie craftily incorporates their past memories and aspirations that both Rigby and Ludlow shared. Their conflicts give a taste of the bitter reality that today’s movies fail to capture. The mournful yet enlightening experiences that the two experience cannot be explained merely with words.
Now, you may be wondering which version to watch first. By luck, I selected Them as my first runner. Thank goodness I did. To fully understand the context of the movie, I suggest that you watch Them before moving onto the more thoughtful Him, and eventually Her. Her must, I repeat, MUST, be watched lastly, for it involves a final touch that wraps all three films into a complete whole. In Them or Him, Eleanor Rigby appears as a pessimistic and frail character, but with Her, you’ll be able to really understand Eleanor and sympathize with her.
If you’re looking for a tranquil movie to watch inside the coziness of your bedsheets, Eleanor Rigby is definitely a must-see. Personally, I would be willing to watch all three films three more times, in the order I mentioned above. Thanks to the changing of the seasons, the lighting and general atmosphere of the movie perfectly reflects spring and early summer, making the watch an even more heartfelt experience. For those who carry a distaste for calm and relatively static films, however, I suggest that you pass on this one. But don’t miss out on The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby’s soundtrack by Son Lux, “No Fate Awaits Me.” It’s thunderous beats erupt every so often from the quiet and slightly eerie melody, which certainly gave tremendous weight to the ending of Them and Him.
– Becky Yang (’16)