This is an exceptional piece on how we face loss and our different reactions to pain. It is a movie about life as it is in its rawness and achy unfiltered moments where adults walk on thin ice and they miss one another on the way.
Initially, the movie made me sad in a soft manner, then it turned me all hopeful in the way people in love make real-world sense.The disappearance of Eleonor Rigby is that kind of movie that makes you reach out to the screen and feel the actors' faces and thoughts as if to nourish yourself from their agony and soothe them. Some movies will do that to you and grab you for an infinite second from a place of comfort into an unpleasant life situation.Whether you can relate yourself to the actual story of not -that of losing an infant and finding yourself at a loss- this movie is bound to trigger a kind of emotion since it renders different reactions to drama. To her, it is excruciating, life changing, the kind of loss that shatters her world. She needs her own way of coping with it, outside the marriage, the family life, the circle of friends, her world. He reaches back to her because it feels the next natural thing to do and he is puzzled by her lack of reaction and understanding. To him, moving on is the solution to a problem that time is slowly turning into a bad memory rather than a constant reminder of the past.
Eleanor and Conor are two people caught in the bustle of things after that moment when life took a halt. They build a portray of love lost and empathy unshared. Is it possible for them to reclaim the love they once shared or are they just at the point of no return? Eleanor cannot find her place- she moves out of their apartment, she tries to go back to school, she attempts to reconnect with her parents. Nothing works, nothing feels right, nothing makes sense anymore. The person that keeps reminding her of her brokenness is Conor himself. She needs time and distance to allow herself to overcome her grief and move on, So she leaves for Paris. Conor chases her, pleads with her, cheats on her, loves her back, tries to comfort her and every time, he fails miserably. His restaurant business is going bad, he argues with his friend, he moves back with a distant father and gets hit by a car. To him, as well, nothing makes sense. These are two people whose loss resonates differently with their own sensitivity and mind sets.
The tragedy of their lives and their way of coping or not with damage, reminded me of The Broken Circle Breakdown characters where one man and a woman use music, life and each other to get things back on track as their whole world breaks down around them. Didier and Elise are the European versions of Eleanor and Conor in the way they are more bohemian and artistic. Also, the movie is about their story instead of depicting the different ways in which Eleanor Rigby and her husband react to the death of their infant and how they relate to the other people in their lives, may they be family or friends.
Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy are the ones drawing the characters and the entire intensity of the story is built around their performances. There is a lack of chemistry between them that almost feels intentional since they use each other to explain pain and the movie focuses on the manner they face misplacement rather then the story of them as a couple. Him and Her are parts of a story that builds like a puzzle in front of you and as these pieces deepen the narrative, it is the causality of the events that draws your attention. The rest of the characters -William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert, Viola Davis- all help the main people render a sense of their frailed relationship by adding significant pieces to the back image. However, the movie feels a bit unbalanced since it is rather centered on Eleanor's feelings and her family's rather than giving a proportionate depiction of both of the leading characters. The ending of the film attempts to restore equilibrium since it goes back to Him, giving the impression that another story is about to begin -that of his way of surviving the disappearance of his wife. It could be the story of Us from the perspective of Him.
In bitter-sweet glimpses of interior life, the director probably intended to make a movie about how people find themselves or not and whether it is permissible to cut others off in doing so. He obviously took sides here with Her and in doing so, he denied Him a chance at going deeper for his own feelings. It makes me wonder whether this was his true intention or if the characters took shape on their own, as it happens in the written world, and somehow took control of the story. In between the layers of the story, a reconciliation is trying to be engineered and the viewer almost gets to choose whether love is to be knit together one day. In real life or on screen...