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The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Production Co: 2014
Studio: Unison Films
Director: Ned Benson
Writer: Ned Benson
Cast: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, William Hurt, Jess Weixler, Ciarán Hinds, Isabelle Huppert, Viola Davis

It's got nothing to do with the Beatles (except that the heroine was named after their eponymous song), but it has a unique hook that's only partly successful and probably didn't do as much to sell the film as the producers and the Weinstein Company wanted.

The theatrical version has been renamed 'The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them', while there are two completely separate versions called 'Him' and 'Her' that – as the names suggest – tell the same story from only each characters' points of view.

The story of young, attractive married couple Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) and Conor (James McAvoy) has an arresting start. First, the pair are enjoying dinner in a fancy New York restaurant when they decide to do a runner. When the staff are more onto them than they counted on, they end up being chased through the streets before they collapse into each others arms on the ground in Central Park, laughing and making out, clearly happy and in love.

In the very next scene, Eleanor is walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, clearly miserable. Drifting here and there apparently not knowing what to do, she makes a decisive move out of the frame before a nearby stranger comes running, making it obvious she's jumped off. Clearly things have changed in their lives.

After Eleanor survives and gets out of hospital, she goes home to live with her understanding but nervous parents, obviously a history of something dark everyone's scared about hanging over the household.

She takes up a class at her father's (John Hurt) encouragement, befriending the no-nonsense teacher (Viola Davis) and gradually dragging herself back to life after the suicide attempt.

Conor, meanwhile, is trying to make it as a restaurateur, soul-searching about why Eleanor did what she did and why she won't talk to him any more and taking it all out on his friend and business partner (Bill Hader).

The pair do eventually meet and start to talk about the terrible event that caused their love to fracture, but after the suckerpunch opening little else about the film stands out quite as much.

It doesn't help that it's dressed in the perpetually dark, dour and autumnal palette so many of these familial melodramas always are – there's a pretty rich plot and all the performances are good, but it ends up visually indistinct when it's already narratively so.

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