Gwen Reyes // Critic
If done right, romantic films tend to fall in one of two categories: heartwarming or wrenching. The best ones can balance that delicate line and leave the audience hopeful and gutted, just how I like to feel when walking out a theater and into the warm embrace of a Hershey’s bar with almonds. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY is just that type of romantic film. Based entirely around the slow demise of a young couple’s marriage, Ned Benson’s film touches a place deep in the soul of anyone who has ever suffered a tragedy so great that even the ones you love cannot help put you back together.
Jessica Chastain (Eleanor) plays the lonely wife beautifully. After attempting suicide by throwing herself from an overpass bridge in New York city, Eleanor attempts to find any resolution to internal pain, while trying to hide it on the outside. Juxtaposed with the bright colors of the city, Chastain pushes everything she has into portraying Eleanor’s dulled emotional state. And her chemistry with co-star James McAvoy (Connor) is off the charts in the happy flashback scenes and despairing in the post-suicide contemporary scenes. McAvoy, like Paul Rudd, has chemistry with almost anything, but when he gets the chance to work with a perfect scene partner — as he finds in Chastain — he cannot be stopped.
The film could come off trite in its ambition, but it can also hit the viewer at just the right moment. Later this year Benson will release two more films following the individual characters, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: HER and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: HIM, but this version is satisfying enough for the romantic who likes her romance with a touch of tragedy.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: THEM opens tomorrow.