Okay, this post is going to be 1 part actual film critique, 1 part fangirlish screaming. Also, I’m trying REALLY HARD not to give away spoilers, but if you want to go into this movie knowing NOTHING about it, then don’t read this!! You have been forewarned:
TIFF DAY FOUR:
Today Cake and I had the great privilege of being in the very first screening of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her—the cast hadn’t even seen the film yet, and they were visible shaken when they took the stage. I think we were all a little shaken. Let me say first off, that this is an amazing film experience—because it is an experience. I can’t imagine seeing one of these films without the other. Jessica mentioned in the Q&A afterwards that the order of the films definitely influences your viewing experience, and ultimately, watching James’ movie first makes you side with him, and vice versa…i would disagree and say that yes, if you only saw ONE of the films, you would definitely be biased, but seeing both of them together means you get both sides of the story as the tagline suggests, and really helps you to understand, even if you don’t always agree with what they’re doing to each other…. We saw “Him” first, and I’d be really interested to hear the reaction of anyone who sees them in the reverse order…I think “Her” is in many ways a more mysterious, enigmatic film, which would make it interesting to see first, because you’re not given all the answers right away…but I think in the end I preferred seeing “hers” second…for reasons?
I’m being purposefully vague here because I don’t want to give too much away. The film builds in a really interesting way, and part of the joy of it is in how all the pieces fit together in each independent film, and bridge across BOTH films…and I’m not going to spoil the discovery of that for anyone!! I will say one thing: I was concerned that I was going to be basically watching the same film twice, and that is DEFINITELY NOT the case. The two films have almost completely separate journeys and while its interesting to discover what they’re doing out in the world without each other, the MORE interesting aspect of each film comes with the moments in which their narratives overlap and collide with each other, and the differences between the same scenes that pop up in Him and Her. These are moments flavoured by subjectivity and the distance of memory, of guilt and a desire to share a hidden burden, or secret, or confession…
There is a lot in the film that is left unsaid, and that makes the moments of revelation all the more poignant (James in particular has a way of avoiding his problems, of compartmentalizing them, while Jessica basically drowns in hers and is forced to build herself back up. They can’t understand the grief of the other, and can’t come to terms with the ways in which they are both dealing with that grief, and it’s painful to watch them work through it…)
Basically I will say that I loved these films, that they are equally interesting and heartbreaking, and lovely, and that I will probably go and see them again this week. I think this is a film that considers a second viewing because of all the small, significant details that can slip right past you in the first viewing.
James and Jessica were both PERFECT. And by perfect I mean beautiful and broken, and agonizing in their pain and in their struggle. The film really lingered with me, and I can still feel it kind of sitting on my chest even now…it’s one of those movies that makes you feel emotionally exhausted at the end—I think that’s because it deals in truth. The truth in relationships, in ALL kinds of relationships: when people don’t know how to act around someone who’s mourning, when people make stupid mistakes in a moment of weakness, when people say the wrong thing, or can’t say anything at all, when they can’t let go, when they have to get away for self-preservation, even though it destroys someone they love…
(It’s not ALL heavy!!! Bill Hader, Viola Davis and Jess Weixler (who played Jessica’s sister, and who I ADORED) were all perfect secondary characters, adding something light to the film, but not superfluous comedy…important foils for the two leads…)
yeah. I don’t know. If anyone wants to chat further about this, let me know!! I HAVE SO MANY THOUGHTS!!!!
On the fangirlish, completely superficial side, let me just say that this film is perfect for the discerning James McAvoy fan. Like him in glasses? CHECK. Like him soaking wet from a rain storm? CHECK. Like all those freckles? CHECK. Like him being charming and lovely and dancing like a fool? TRIPLE CHECK. He’s so handsome in this, it hurts sometimes. Also, seeing him today was surreal. He is actually MORE handsome in person. Jessica Chastain was also kind of ridiculously attractive, as can be seen in the photos above. Both of them were completely lovely in the Q&A, and James rambled on and on and eventually was like “aaaaaand I have no idea what I’m talking about anymore!” and the audience was EATING OUT OF THE PALM OF HIS HAND.