Following two separate releases of Ned Benson’s The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby – Him and – Her – this is the Them re-edit from Cannes, dipping into both the lives of husband Conor (James McAvoy) and wife El (Jessica Chastain) as they come to terms with the fallout from a family tragedy. It’s their different ways of grieving that drives them apart – torn between everyday life, a desire to walk out on their old lives in favour of a new one while attempting to keep on the lights of their old relationship. Like the fireflies that punctuate the film, there are bright moments, particularly the scenes between both McAvoy and Chastain. But they fade quickly as Benson slowly drip-feeds his big reveals – the experience of the couple’s painful grieving too restrained, buried under concealing brave faces, as they edge round their tragedy as if slowly pulling at a scab. If The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is underwhelming as a two-hander, it might be that Benson was right all along with his original idea of His and Her perspectives to uncover the lives of these lonely people.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is showing on Oct 17th & 18th at the 58th BFI London Film Festival