The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a very long film. It goes on and on and nothing much happens but this going on and on. And you can easily imagine the amazement that filled my face when I learned that it could actually have gone on and on for much longer than I saw it going on and on. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby I watched is a condensed version (thanks to Harvey Weinstein) of two films. The first one, called The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her, is 100 minutes; the second, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him, is 90 minutes. Them, the condensed version, is 122 minutes. I have taken flights to Africa that felt shorter and more eventful than this movie, which is about an upper-middle-class thirtysomething couple (James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain) that’s slowly (ever so slowly) dealing with a marriage broken by the death of their child.
The couple met, fell in love, got married, and had a baby, and then the baby died (we are never told how). After the tragedy, the husband stayed in the city (NYC), and the wife moved to the suburbs. The wife is taking classes in critical theory for no particular reason. The husband runs a restaurant that makes no money (his father owns a successful and fancy Manhattan joint). What the film indicates is that this class of white Americans just might not have any more stories to tell. Why? Possibly because it’s a class that has no real problems, no real challenges, no real passions. The super-rich at least have the problem of how to make life miserable for the rest of humanity. The poor have the big problem of being poor. The middle class has the problem of debt. The upper class is just there. It has nothing to worry about.
Yes, a dead baby is at the heart of Eleanor Rigby, but that’s not enough. Death happens. Life comes and goes. Dealing with grief is old hat. This problemless plot is coupled with the most cinemaless kind of filmmaking. The writing in Eleanor Rigby is vapid, the cinematography is plain, the acting is as interesting as a piece of wood, and the soundtrack is predictably sad/sappy. The appearance of Eleanor Rigby’s end credits brought to me the feelings a convict might have moments before they’re released from prison.