“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby – Them” Review: Is it a waste of time?
This project is something I highly anticipated watching back when Joel Edgerton was attached, and then I became more so when James McAvoy took over for him. The incredible cast, and incredible potential, behind this unique idea thrilled me even though it’s a genre I don’t necessarily care for. What is billed as a romance is actually more of a drama, and not a very deep one at that. The potential was there, but didn’t come through on the screen.
It’s important to note that I’m reviewing the “Them” version. There was originally supposed to be two films with the same title, but subtitled “Him” and “Her.” These were going to tell the same story, but following the perspective of each main character, and I can’t help but feel that these were probably much better films. The editors had to sacrifice A LOT of character and plot development in order to forcefully shove two films into one…the dreaded “Them.”
With an all-star cast, including the supporting cast, it’s hard to imagine why the studio would want audiences to see the under-developed film before seeing the unique, and probably a lot better, solo films. Viola Davis, William Hurt, Bill Hader and more contribute what is likely amazing performances, but are sold short for the theatrical release. Everyone involved, including Hader who BLEW ME AWAY in “The Skeleton Twins,” was at the top of their game, but never got a moment to shine as their parts were stripped away. Our main leads, however, did well. Jessica Chastain is just an A-list actress, and can chew up every scene she is in like it’s nothing (a la Meryl Streep). James McAvoy also did a great job of portraying a character holding in his emotion, and instead of coming off like Keanu Reeves his performance actually felt real and tragic.
I really am in love with the idea of this story. I like the idea of starting the film with a tragedy that takes place because of another tragedy. A lot of times in dramas you get to see the lead up to a tragic event, and then the last act is everyone putting their lives together. In “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby – Them” You get to see the aftermath of a life altering event, and how it effects ALL the characters involved (not just the main ones). They really sold me on the story, but this isn’t so much a romance (as it’s being billed) as it’s a drama. While there are romantic elements it’s far from “The Notebook,” and I’m actually grateful for that. This is an intense drama that just doesn’t find its footing because there are too many characters with too little to do in the condensed version.
As a whole this is an incredible idea, telling two sides of the same tragic story, but it’s poorly executed when the studio chooses to shove them together into one. While “Them” can stand on its own two feet, it does so very wobbly, and I can’t recommend spending money on it. I am REALLY looking forward to seeing the “His” and “Her” versions as the characters appear to be so rich with their own stories that they need to split them into separate films. Having two view points, the male and female, on aftermath of a tragedy is a genius move, and with this incredible cast and excellent writing could pay off in the long run. Skip the “Them,” but see the “His” and “Her” as the cast and story will likely make it a unique experience.