Title – The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her (2013)
Director – Ned Benson (feature debut)
Cast – James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Ciaran Hinds, Viola Davis, Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, Katherine Waterston
Plot – Told in two separate features, Him and Her, this is a story told from both sides of married couple Eleanor (Chastain) and Conor (McAvoy) and their trials to save their crumbling marriage in the face of great personal pain.
“It’s funny how a person just by living can damage another person beyond repair”
Reviews by Eddie on 9/06/2015
A frustrating chapter in the Eleanor Rigby saga, Him sees the focus laid almost solely onto James McAvoy’s struggling bar/restaurant owner Conor as he tries to keep both his business and marriage to the inwardly tortured Eleanor afloat.
What frustrates most about Him is that it’s always close to breaking into affecting territory yet is always bought down by a strange sense of distance between the audience and the characters and McAvoy’s Conor never truly becomes someone where wholeheartedly invested in even though his by no means a bad person. Him paints Conor as the victim of a no doubt hard trial, a man who wants nothing more than his wife to love him once more and to have her back no matter the cost.
McAvoy’s performance is up to his usual standards but there’s little questioning we’ve seen him engage more in numerous other projects. Chastain is strong support but is barely sighted in the films 90 minute or so run time and the majority of backup is from Game of Thrones guest actor Ciaran Hinds and quality character actor Bill Hader. It would’ve been great for director Ned Bensen to allow us into the history and mindset of Conor more so, therefore getting more emotional punch from a film that as a standalone doesn’t add up to a satisfying whole.
2 and a half customer chase downs out of 5
Continuing on from the frustration experienced in the saga’s Him component, Her struggles to engage the audience in a meaningful way despite it featuring an assured Jessica Chastain performance and a few genuine moments of emotional power centred around loss and regret.
A large portion of frustration towards this entry stems from the fact that even though we do feel for Eleanor as a person we can’t fully commit to liking her and she remains a cold and sometimes undeniably unlikeable figure throughout this components run time. She’s a woman dealing with a great personal tragedy and a conflicted mindset, yet she’s also someone that seems unappreciative of the friends around her and their helpful suggestions or ideas, in other words Eleanor comes off as someone who is to self-assured to see the positives around her.
Somewhere deep down in both Him and Her is a great film and one feels that if the best of both chapters were combined into one singular film it would be a much more recommendable if still slightly unoriginal tale, and perhaps that is the reason Them came into existence. With some nice turns by McAvoy and Chastain, these films remain watchable but never reach the heights they so easily could’ve had the hard slog journey been worth it in the final payoff.
2 Diet Cokes out of 5