Now that I’m in my 30’s I realize I have so much more figured out than I did even 5 years ago. I have a great relationship with my parents, an adoring husband, and loyal friends. I go to dinner parties, send thank you notes, give random strangers a smile and compliment, and definitively take my coffee light and sweet. But, it’s the quiet moments in between I still wonder, “What the hell am I doing?” In Writer/Director Ned Benson‘s latest film The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, we find a couple at the beginning of the end of their marriage. Husband and wife want different things and neither knows how to cope. The slow deterioration of a man and woman once much in love is a sad, but all too true story we all know. This one particular is unique in the fact that it it told from two very different points of view. Benson takes a look at what happens when we let that little voice inside take over the conversation.
Eleanor and Conor are reeling from a loss. This is a perfect example of how differently men and women react to certain situations. Head Vs Heart. Ignorant bliss Vs deafening despair. As the two separate, Conor tries desperately to regain the love of Eleanor. She is so far beyond the past as the present haunts her every minute. She battles her own mind as she tackles what should come next. The sense of being lost permeates the entire film and thus makes this story 100% relatable.
I cannot bestow enough praise on this award winning cast. Jessica Chastain fearlessly takes on Eleanor. This is her most intense and engrossing role to date, which is really saying something considering the meaty roles she has already embodied. She is flawlessly vulnerable yet strong. You want to simultaneously hug her and high five her through the screen. She James McAvoy is Conor. He battles his demons with self destruction and the unwillingness to take No for an answer. Really strong performance. Isabelle Huppert plays Eleanor’s mother. Brutally honest and nonchalant, Huppert is always so incredibly comfortable in the skin of each character she plays. William Hurt plays Eleanor’s father. This is a performance that should be noticed. Loving, kind, and gentle at every turn. Whether doling out advice or sitting quietly, his presence is felt in each scene. Bill Hader plays Conor’s friend, Stu. Charming and down to earth, it was a pleasure to see Hader stretch his acting chops. He was a much needed comic relief without falling into the slapstick world of SNL. I want more of this from him in the future. Jess Weixler plays Eleanor’s sister. As a sweet and genuine single mom, she is the antithesis of Chastain’s character on the surface but proves to be a lovely foil and a natural talent. We cannot end this review without mentioning the great Miss Viola Davis. I’m not sure this woman is capable of a misread line of dialogue. She steps into the role of non-familial support system to Eleanor as her professor and friend. In the limited scenes she has, the movie belongs to her. A truly grounded performance. I think, I hope, I smell Oscar nod. (Just putting it out there, Academy)
Benson has created an extraordinarily touching narrative with The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. With New York City as a backdrop, you already have cinematic gold. The film is quietly powerful, emotionally sharp, and tackles the age old question that we’ll always struggle with, “What now?” You can see The Disappearnce of Eleanor Rigby in theaters tomorrow.