Following the death of their only offspring, an infant son named Cody, married New Yorkers Conor Ludlow and Eleanor Rigby - a struggling restaurateur and an academic working on her Ph.D. in Anthropology before Cody arrived in their lives - hit a rough spot in their relationship. Although still loving Conor, El is uncertain if she can bear what Conor represents to her and bear the grief even if Conor is no longer in her life. Following an incident, El decides to disappear from Conor's life, she taking refuge at the suburban home of her parents Julian and Mary Rigby, an academic himself and a musician respectively. Just to keep her mind active and off the thought of Conor or Cody, Julian suggests to El that she return to college and he pulls some strings for El possibly to enter into his colleague Professor Lilian Friedman's class. Despite being a therapist himself, he also tries to get El to see a therapist to deal with her grief. Meanwhile, Conor is facing his own emotional and ...Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. It's tough and probably unfair to write about a film project when key pieces remain unseen. Writer/Director Ned Benson's brilliant first take on the story was released at Toronto Film Festival in two perspectives: "Him" and "Her". A massive re-edit produced "Them", this version released in theatres. As you might expect, knowledge that more exists ... and in probably a more effective story telling format ... renders us a bit frustrated with the blended version. Still, there is plenty here to warrant a look.
This viewer's frustration stems mostly from the long and winding road we travel understanding something tragic has caused the split between El (the titular Eleanor Rigby) and Conor. We are offered a brief glimpse of their happy times, but never get to know them as a happy couple. Instead, Conor is shown trying to re-assemble the pieces, while El tries to move on to a different puzzle altogether.
While the story unfolds in teeth-grinding fashion, it doesn't offset the powerful emotion and personal intensity brought to the screen by both James McAvoy (Conor) and Jessica Chastain (El). Mr. McAvoy has quietly evolved into one of the more interesting actors working, while Ms. Chastain proves herself to be among the best each time she crawls inside a role and makes it her own. We feel for each of them, before we even really know them at all.
Other superb work comes from a sterling supporting cast that includes screen vets William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert, Viola Davis and Ciaran Hinds; as well as Bill Hader, Jess Weixler and Nina Arianda. That's seven characters (plus the two leads) of which we yearn to learn more. Ms. Davis is especially effective in her all too brief appearance as a professor cutting El very little slack. And Mr. Hurt delivers a terrific monologue that strikes a chord.
So all of these wonderful pieces make for an spell-binding what-if that possibly gets answered in the dual-perspective version. The coldness and lack of understanding in the first 45 minutes can't offset the emotion and sadness that each character feels. Rumor has it that "Him" and "Her" will get their release this year, and if so, I'll be there in an attempt to complete both puzzles.
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