A beautiful, emotionally haunting film about loss and love, starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy

How The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them came about is an interesting tale in its own right. Writer/director Ned Benson began with two movies about the same couple, told from each spouse’s perspective in the collapse of their marriage after tragedy strikes. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him played the festival circuit as separate films, earning accolades for their elegant craft and careful character portraits. The distributor wanted one movie, so Ned Benson cut them together to produce The Disappearance of Eleanor: Them. The bold creative gambit works for the most part as a deep rumination on grieving.

Once happily married, Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) are living separately after tragedy destroyed their happy life. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is centered around Jessica Chastain’s brilliant performance as Eleanor. The emotionally-shattered wife has left Conor after a suicide attempt and moved back in with her parents. Her father and mother are small but vital roles played by William Hurt and French actress Isabelle Huppert. The cast is uniformly superb, including supporting work by Viola Davis, Jess Weixler, and Bill Hader. Hader turns in a low-key performance, a bit different than his usual comedic work. The film works surprisingly well as Oscar bait. Jessica Chastain gives an Oscar-worthy performance which deserves nomination.

Every aspect of filmmaking in Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is done with supreme execution


The carefully structured narrative slowly reveals what tragedy struck this couple, ending the marriage. It certainly plays coy with the ultimate reason for their separation until well into the film. Eleanor looks to have moved past Conor, taking university classes again on her own and adrift in life. Conor runs a failing restaurant with his best friend, Stuart (Bill Hader).Conor lives in the shadow of his very successful father, owner of a more established restaurant.

Both Conor and Eleanor still have feelings for each other but they each have to grieve in their own way. There is love between them, but this heavy drama is falsely marketed as a romantic movie. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a somber, mature examination of two characters coping with very raw emotions as they each process grief in their own ways.

The two leads are phenomenal working together. James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain have impeccable, realistic screen chemistry. Every aspect of filmmaking in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is done with supreme execution, its nuanced storytelling is made better with stellar cinematography and fantastic direction. This is a sophisticated, emotional drama meant for adults. Yes, the lead character is named Eleanor Rigby as a nod to the famous Beatles’ song. No, the music does not play a part in this movie except as a throwaway line. The budget apparently didn’t include licensing the tune.

Movie ★★★★☆

Excellent contrast @ 40:57

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a beautiful film with fully-realized cinematography, some of the best I have seen in the past year. This is sophisticated cinematography with careful color grading, delicately bathed in different tones depending on character and setting. Struck from a pristine Digital Intermediate at 2K resolution, this is sharp 1080P video with excellent definition and strong detail. The superb depth and solid delineation in darker shots mark it as a carefully-filmed production.

The main feature is framed in its intended aspect ratio, 2.40:1. Starz distributed the film for the Weinstein Company, encoding the 122-minute movie in AVC at 27.74 Mbps. It is a nearly-perfect video encode that fully replicates the DI without obvious artifacts.

The digital color grading produces a subdued color palette with darker contrast. A touch of shadow detail is mildly limited in a few scenes. The Hi-Def transfer has been left untouched by ringing, exuding high-frequency content and proper texture. Overall, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby looks like a real winner on Blu-ray.

Video ★★★★★

For such a quiet, somber film, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby delivers a fairly impressive surround mix filled with subtle cues and an expansive soundstage. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio has impressive fidelity, mixed to spread the score around a true 5.1 presentation. There are even a few moments when the bass channel kicks in at the right time. For a dialogue-driven drama, some attention was paid to make this an immersive sound experience.

English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included in a white font. They display within the 2.40:1 widescreen framing at all times.

Audio ★★★★☆

Starz has gone the extra mile for The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, including a second BD for the two films that started this whole thing in the first place. On a second BD-50, both Her and Him are included in full HD quality. While only receiving lossy audio, they both get excellent video presentations commensurate with the longer Them’s picture quality.

Q&A With Jessica Chastain & James McAvoy (21:28 in HD) – Moderated by Thelma Adams, this is a lively session with an audience filmed in September of 2014. Both actors are very engaged and even playful, joking around in the discussion. It is an enjoyable bonus and a format I wish more studios would adopt for the special features. Actors are often stiff in their answers without an audience.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her (105:38 in 1080P; optional English SDH; 5.1 English Dolby Digital at 448 kbps) – This version of the film is probably closest to director Ned Benson’s vision. Told entirely from Eleanor’s perspective and including a few scenes with her sister that didn’t make Them, it closely mirrors the longer film’s progression. It also has a slightly different ending. I think some will prefer this version, though I felt something was lost by cutting out Conor’s interior life away from Eleanor.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him (96:09 in 1080P, optional English SDH; 5.1 Dolby Digital at 448 kbps) – Now this is a much different film than the other two versions, told from Conor’s perspective. We get material with Conor’s father that never made Them, including their fractured relationship. The real star of this series is Jessica Chastain’s Eleanor Rigby, so a version that cuts much of her characterization feels incomplete. It remains an interesting alternative told from the male perspective.

Extras★★★★★

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.