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The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

A drama is good enough but fuzzy around the edges

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The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby film

This is a satisfying enough character-driven drama performed by appealing actors. But it's not Ingmar Bergman, and the title alone signifies a movie that's too aware of itself. The story revolves around Conor and Eleanor (James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain), whose relationship ends after the death of their child. This premise is true to life, but it's too easy in a movie — or at least, in this movie. We never do learn how the boy died, which is another touch of pretense: If you want us to get close to these characters, we need to know what they know. Some of the dialogue is crisp and smart, and some is not. It's just hard to tell if  writer/director Ned Benson intends his clichés to be profound, or comforting, or just a reminder that people talk this way. The alternative to his polished script would be naked emotion – the language of the soul. The leads are fine, if at times affectless, so I concentrated on the others: Isabelle Huppert is alert as Eleanor's mother, and Ciarán Hinds finely somber as Conor's dad. Benson has made two other version of this film, subtitled Him and Her, each telling the story from another point of view. I doubt they'll clear much up, but I'm willing to watch them anyway.

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