A year ago I sat through Ned Benson’s three hour two film project, “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” in awe. Benson had made two films about a marriage breaking up, each one told from the wife and husband’s perspectives. It was like something from 1977. You were just grateful that anyone cared enough at this point to try it.
Harvey Weinstein bought the movies and had a great idea– why not make a third movie that combined the two? That’s what’s out this weekend, with Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy leading an exceptional cast that includes Ciaran Hinds, Nina Arianda, and Bill Hader. The single film is adventurous, comedic and very sexy. It also has one of the most romantic endings in movies.
The single “Eleanor Rigby” actually works very well. Benson now combines the best of all his worlds, and comes to his original point. I think real fans will go back and watch the two movies when they’re released next. But to miss this two hour version would be a shame. Also, with nothing but praise for McAvoy, I must say that Chastain is even more luminous than I remembered. She is certainly on the short list for an Oscar nomination.
Benson is to be commended and encouraged. He’s a fine new filmmaker. He has a lot of sophistication and maturity. “Eleanor Rigby” is full of air and space in the right places. We forget that movies used to have places where we just looked around, or listened, not in a hurry. Don’t bring a smart phone with you to this movie. Just concentrate.