Jessica Chastain is a shining star with acting skills that resonate beyond her beauty. She is at her fierce, unerring best, which is saying something, in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. As Eleanor, Chastain never begs for sympathy for this woman who tries suicide after the death of her baby. James McAvoy is also in peak form as Conor, the other half of a couple that can’t put the pieces back together.
Speaking of halves, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby was once two movies: Her from Eleanor’s point of view, Him from Conor’s. It’s a tribute to the actors and first-time filmmaker Ned Benson that both movies, to be released on October 10th, hold you in thrall.
But here, opening this month, is the film that combines the other two. As a result, the backstories – Eleanor with her parents (William Hurt and Isabelle Huppert) and Conor with his restaurateur father (a superb Ciarán Hinds) – are truncated. The impact is minimal. Should you spend four hours with Eleanor and Conor, or only two? To my mind, this version still captures the essence of Benson’s brave experiment. However you choose to see this emotional powerhouse, Chastain and McAvoy could not be better.