The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Friday 17th October, 6.30pm – Odeon West End, Screen 1
Saturday 18th October, 8.30pm – Vue West End, Screen 5
Writer/producer/director Ned Benson’s conception of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby began not with a particularly unique central notion – that there are very much two distinct sides to any single story – but one which showed promise and uniqueness in its execution. Thus, the concept of Him and Her was born: two parallel films portraying the same series of events through two different pairs of eyes (the eyes, of course, of wife Eleanor and husband Connor). Thankfully, as of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival Benson has created a third film, the inventively named Them, which amalgamates and condenses the content of the two others, for those of us who find ourselves unable to sit through nearly four hours worth of film not directed by David Lean.
By far the greatest praise the film has so far received is of the performances of the leading pair, Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, in their respective roles. To give credit where credit is due, both provide some fantastic moments of understated acting; in particular Chastain’s performance is both consistently warm and intermittently chilling. Nevertheless, these two standout displays among a slightly more mixed bag of supports are not quite enough to save The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby from a more concerning preoccupation of pandering to mediocrity and cliché.
The film primarily operates on the principle of overdeveloping simplistic ideas until they become gimmicks; from the structure (a dualism of narrative portrayed infinitely more subtly and powerfully in David Fincher’s shockingly similar Gone Girl) and the eponymous character’s name (we are expected to believe that two of the most straight-laced characters in recent film history have named their eldest child after a Beatles song) down to the narrative occlusion of the film’s most pivotal event, the effects of which are initially powerful, but soon feel like more of an avoidance tactic.
Ultimately, the failure of the film to reach its real potential falls down to Benson’s inability to conjure more than base mediocrity in constructing a believable script and effective production – the soundtrack and cinematography both strikingly unadventurous – in response to a concept that does not lack in potential. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby takes a somewhat adventurous conception and executes it in a manner that does neither director nor actor much justice. Where it succeeds, it succeeds for the same reasons as every other vaguely artistic romance.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby release date is yet to be announced.
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