Combustible Celluloid
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With: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Nina Arianda, Bill Hader, Ciarán Hinds, Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, Jess Weixler, Nikki M. James
Written by: Ned Benson
Directed by: Ned Benson
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 122
Date: 09/19/2014

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

All the Lonely People

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Last year, writer and director Ned Benson shot two feature length movies, telling the same story from two different points of view, differing slightly according to memory and perception. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him followed Conor (James McAvoy) after a devastating family tragedy, and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her followed his wife, Eleanor Rigby (Jessica Chastain), as she dealt with things her own way. Now Benson has edited the two into one film, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, opening this week. (Him and Her will be released next month.)

Currently, all of the effects of the previous two films are gone, and it's ultimately just a normal narrative. It's like watching Memento frontways. The story is there, but there's not much to make it special. Benson's dialogue is probing, with characters asking questions and listening to one another. His fine master-class moments attracted performers like Viola Davis and William Hurt to supporting roles. However, the script sometimes become too precious and Benson knows it: the characters backtrack and balk when their words go too far and become embarrassing. As director, his shooting style is quiet and wistful. It doles out information sporadically, naturally. It's generally unhurried. Yet at 122 minutes, you sometimes wish it would hurry at least a little.

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