HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby : "Them"
HTS Overall Score:81
By the title alone one might expect that “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” is some sort of thriller, or a mystery of sorts, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Well, you might say it has some mystery elements to it, but really it’s a personal tale about two people who are dealing with pain and loss in their lives, and the resulting climb back up to the saddle once more. Two people who had everything, were on top of the world and now have literally fallen lower than they have every thought possible. Ironically “Them” is actually TWO separate movies edited down quite heavily into a single cut. Originally Ned Benson created “Him” and “Her” which each is its own feature length movie adding up to over 3 hours and 20 minutes of runtime. “Them” makes a more “theater friendly” runtime of a hair over 2 hours, but the end result is a bit less cohesive and a lot more choppy than the individual experiences of seeing Eleanor and Connor’s stories through their own eyes.
“Them” is about Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) and Connor (James McAvoy) dealing with a tragic loss. At first that loss is a mystery, but you soon realize just what the two of them have been through. It’s never explicitly talked about, or delved into what HAPPENED exactly, but that is really irrelevant, as the more important issue is the fact that they’re separated and barely talking to each other. Eleanor is hiding out at her parent’s house (played by William Hurt and Isabelle Huppert) while Connor is frantically trying to track her down and talk things out. Eleanor wants nothing to do with Connor, instead trying frantically to lose herself in something new. Taking classes by her father’s recommendation she finds out that she can’t exactly lose Connor, as he tracks her down in an effort to reconcile. The movie is really adept at not spoon feeding you everything. You aren’t told, but you see that her mother tends to hit the bottle a bit much, and that Eleanor takes after her mom in that retrospect, and Connor is struggling with his own dysfunctions. He owns a bar that is barely keeping its head above water, and his own father is about as distant and out of touch with his life as one can possibly be.
The story is a fascinating tale about two people who have to come to grips with their pain. The realization has to come to everyone sooner or later that life just doesn’t go as planned many times. In these two’s case, life has dealt them a sour hand and both Eleanor and Connor are foundering. The water is neck deep and both are struggling just to keep on swimming, let along doing a good job at it. While there is some definite editing issues due to trying to cram both “Him” and “Her” into one movie, the film still does a good job at getting that feeling across. The desperation in their eyes is palpable and haunting, especially for those of you who have already been through some deep pain like this. The real highlights of the movie don’t rather come from the script, but rather the performers as McAvoy and Chastain knock it out of the park. Every look, every twitch of the lip and every cry for help resonates with the viewer and explains just why we love the two of them so much. Even William Hurt turns in some really good scenes that speak volumes even in his lack of speaking during certain moments.
“Them” is definitely the weaker of the experiences, being that I watched “Them” first I was a little disappointed being that it had gotten a lot of good recommendations. However, when watching “Him” and “Her” back to back I realized where the praise was coming from. The separate films tell mainly the same story, but there are both distinctly tighter and more satisfying than the combined effort. You see each person’s story through their own eyes, and the sloppy editing and leaps of time are much less pronounced as you get to see the story unfold more organically. The ending scene in particular felt a bit rushed in “Them”, but when you watch the two different versions together that ending, as subtle as it is, is that much more beautiful and will definitely put a smile on your face. My biggest fear was ending the movie on a cliché, but that ending was able to pull off a cliché in such a subtle and sweet way that you almost don’t recognize it. The only downside to the “Him” and “Her” presentations is that they are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 vs. the lossless audio of “Them”. While I rate "Them" a 3/5, I would definitely have to rate "Him" and "Her" a 4 - 4.5/5.
Rated R for language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=37802[/img]“Them” sports a very pleasing video encode that ranges from good to great, depending on the scene. The film is color graded with a very yellow filter over the lens which tends to give skin tones a rather sallow look at times, and during a few of the night time shots the color grading shifts to a more blue/gray feel, which gives those skin tones a more natural look. The detail ranges from good to absolutely phenomenal as sometimes some of those scenes were a tad soft, and other times (especially in the outdoor day shots) the image is razor sharp and clear. I noticed that the whites bloomed a good bit, very stylistically and kept well within reason, but those whites were definitely pushed up there. Black levels stay excellent for the most part, but there is a bit of black crush and some noise in the picture, especially during that opening scene where they dine and dash. Very solid from beginning to end.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=37810[/img]I was really surprised to hear such an excellent and immersive audio experience from a drama. Usually your drama tracks tend to be rather forward heavy and don’t rely much on strong LFE or surround usage. Not so here, as “Them” is an exquisitely nuanced track that pays a LOT of attention to the little details. As expected, the dialogue takes up a good portion of the film and stays locked and loaded in the center speaker. Voices come through crystal clear and there’s some nice directional uses in the mains at times. The big surprise comes with the use of some pretty heavy and deep LFE at really random moments. There’s actually a few places near the end where my couch started vibrating at that “oh boy, we’re at sub 15 hz range” and the low end really filled out the track to feel more intense. The surrounds were quite active as the sounds of a busy city came through from all directions. Even the little sounds of Connor’s bar are precise and accurate, whether they’re loud patrons or just the clink of glasses in the background. Excellent from beginning to end.
• Q&A with Jessica Chastain & James McAvoy
• The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: "Her"
• The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: "Him"
“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby’s” biggest boon to the viewers is the ability to experience all three cuts of the movie in one set. Had “Him” and “Her” been edited down to “Them” and that was the ONLY cut on the disc, I would have said this would have been a disappointing release, however with the addition of all three cuts you can see the movie in whichever form you like. In my humble opinion, the viewer will get the most out of watching “Him” and “Her” as separate films rather than the edited down “Them”, but each person will be different. The movie can be a bit slow paced and relies on the leads to really swing the story, but in the end it’s a rather rewarding experience. As art house films tend to be very divisive I would suggest renting first if you’re on the fence, but if your DO rent, please try and make sure to get the “Him” and “Her” disc as well, as you would be doing a disservice by not trying those out, despite the long runtime. Fans of the movie already know the superior cut, and thankfully this was given the “Blade Runner” treatment and is a must buy for those.
Starring: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis
Directed by: Ned Benson
Written by: Ned Benson
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
Runtime: 123 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 3rd 2015
Buy The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Worth investigating
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