There has been an undeniable buzz surrounding writer-director Ned Benson’s The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby ever since the film’s high-profile premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last year. Following an award-winning showing at Cannes in May, the first trailer for the upcoming film premiered online last week and it is as intriguing, as beautifully filmed and as interesting as you might expect.
Benson’s film has intrigued film fans and film critics alike since he announced the movie was to comprise of two separate films, Her and Him, each adopting a different perspective on the love story between Conor Ludlow (Golden Globe nominee and X-Men star James McAvoy) and Eleanor Rigby (Academy Award nominated actress Jessica Chastain).
The film’s origins lie in a conversation Benson had upon meeting with Chastain to discuss the role; Benson has been close friends with his leading actress for some time and he wrote the character of Eleanor with her in mind. Chastain’s insights into her character’s psychology and her engagement with the plot sparked the idea in Benson’s mind of writing Eleanor’s version of the story too.
Benson has stressed the film is inherently about subjectivity. Each scene was shot twice: Conor’s version of the scene and Eleanor’s version of the scene. Slightly different dialogue, different emphasis and different camera angles established the two alternative viewpoints. The end result is three films: Him, Her and Them. Them is an amalgamation of footage from both Conor and Eleanor’s perspectives, allowing the subjective spirit of the project to remain without the need for audiences to watch two films back-to-back. In the US, Them will be on wide release, whilst art-house and independent cinemas will show Her and Him.
The trailer for the movie is absorbing: we see the seemingly idyllic relationship between the couple fall apart as Eleanor leaves. Shots of the two together are intertwined with shots of a crestfallen Conor, alone in his apartment, and striking shots of red-headed Eleanor, barely visible within a crowd of people walking alone on a New York side-walk.
There is only one part of the trailer in which the differing perspectives technique is clear. The couple are seen having a conversation in a car: Eleanor says shyly “You’re sopping wet” and Conor smiles and replies “you noticed that?” We then see the same conversation again: “You’re sopping wet!” Eleanor laughs, “Oh you noticed, thank you!” Conor retorts sarcastically. Subtly, yet notably different, the conversation emphasises how two people can have a very different memory of the same event.
The trailer establishes that McAvoy and Chastain have serious chemistry: in the short trailer the couple are captivating. Both actors have a great screen presence and are renowned for being talented and sensitive performers. With them at the helm, an intriguing premise and a tantalising trailer, it seems that The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby will be a must-see come Autumn.