The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (Blu-ray Review)

the disappearance of eleanor rigbyReviewing The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby on Blu-ray makes for a somewhat difficult situation, because there are two versions of this film (thankfully both available on this release).  The first has something of a subtitle known as “Them”.  This version takes the story of a married couple that separates and follows both of their lives separately, from their perspectives.  The other version, the original work-in-progress version, is actually two films (“Him” and “Her”), which allows us to see two complete films about the two main characters separately, with sporadic interactions with each other.  “Them” exists as a combination that loses about 70 minutes of “Him/Her”.  Having not seen either version before this release, I was at a loss of how to approach the film, but I have now did what I could, so be prepared for the results, as well as a look at how this Blu-ray release plays.


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So keeping the setup I described in mind, I ended up watching “Him” and “Her” first and took a run at portions of “Them” to get an idea of what the editing was like.  The film plays better as two separate films for some basic reasons, but I also admire “Him/Her” more, due to the experimental nature of the project.  This ‘thing’ stars Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy as Eleanor Rigby and Connor Ludlow, a formerly married couple.  The two have recently separated, following a tragedy in their lives and we essentially watch them try to pick up the pieces of their current lives and move forward.  One is far more dramatic than the other, as Eleanor takes a very significant action the opening moments of “Her”, before settling down and returning to college.  “Him” finds Connor in more of a seeker mode, as he attempts to find Eleanor at various stages, while also dealing with his job and father.

It is neat to mention the supporting performers involved as you only get a glimpse of some of these actors in one side of the story, while seeing full performances from them in the other half.  Viola Davis, William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert, Bill Hader, Ciaran Hinds (who is probably the MVP supporting performer here), and Jess Weixler all do a fine job of providing support to the two leads, but it really is the work from McAvoy and Chastain (who has the edge) that makes a fairly familiar story arc work so effectively.  Writer director Ned Benson makes his full-length feature debut here and while you can see a lot of standard indie romance elements informing the direction of the film and nearly see the writing on the screen, when it comes to some of the dialogue, it is the strong efforts from the lead cast members that certainly make the film a worthwhile experience.


Addressing the peculiar structure of this film(s), it is interesting to watch half of this story and form opinions about what may be going on, while also getting a fine understanding of what the main character involved may be going through, only to have more clarity, upon seeing the other half of the story.  It is not quite a gimmick, but doing a sort of side-sequel-structured arthouse experiment in the realm of a romantic drama creates a film that is inherently layered.  You lose that in “Them”, which is a shame, but I should note that from what I saw, “Them” did seem to have enough done to make for a compelling-enough single film, with a decent handle on how to move between the two separate stories, despite all the material being lost in the process.

While this grand experiment did not ultimately result in a film for the ages (The Weinstein Company seemed to abandon this film during awards season), The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is certainly worth checking out multiple times, given the uncommon structure and versions available.  The story is familiar, but the performances are committed, which is what really counts here.  I suppose I should also say the famous Beatles song is not featured in the film, but given the tone, I don’t think El would have much liked to have heard it at any point anyway.


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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  In going into the video quality, it should be noted that the two sides of this story do benefit from having a different visual look.  It is reflected well in this Blu-ray, which has the look of an arthouse film shot with what is not the most high quality of equipment, but still good enough to allow for strong detail work to come across in its Blu-ray transfer.

Depth: Plenty of scenes featuring multiple characters walking around various parts of the city or indoors do enough to establish a good-looking amount of depth present.

Black Levels: Some minor amounts of noise in dark scenes are present, but for the most part, you get some deep black levels.

Color Reproduction: The film has an unassuming look to it, but colors are bold and pop when necessary.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures stand out quite well, reflecting the characters properly.

Noise/Artifacts: Very little to complain about.



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Audio Format(s): “Them” – English DTS-HD MA 5.1, “Him/Her” – English Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: “Them” – English SDH, Spanish, “Him/Her” – English SDH

Dynamics: The unfortunate thing is that because “Him/Her” is treated as something of a special feature, it does not get quite the same treatment as far as the technical quality is concerned.  “Them” is presented with a lossless soundtrack, which sound great and is consistent.  “Him/Her” is not lossless and while that does not mean the end of the world, it does seem a bit of a shame to not be the ultimate auditory experience for this film in the same way.

Low Frequency Extension: The use of music and some sequences featuring heavy storming lead to some nice work to be done on the LFE channel.

Surround Sound Presentation: The track is balanced and clear, making for a good mix when it comes to the various channels we can hear the score, dialogue, ambient sounds, and more on.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone is coming in loud and clear.



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So I feel like it would be a bit of a cheat to score higher here.  Yes, “Him/Her” is on a bonus disc technically, but there are some extenuating circumstances at play.  That said, nothing else is offered, aside from a decent Q&A, so there you have it.

Features Include:

  • Q&A with Jessica Chastain & James McAvoy (HD, 21:28) – Located on disc 1, this is a decent Q&A, with the actors discussing a number of neat things about the film.  Worth checking out.
  • The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: “Her” (HD, 1:45:38) – The film as told from Jessica Chastain’s perspective.
  • The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: “Him” (HD, 1:36:09) – The film as told from James McAvoy’s perspective.



I was glad to see this film the way I would have liked.  No, I did not end up loving it dearly, but I liked being able to see it in whatever way I chose, given the presence of the “Them” cut and the “Him/Her” cut, without having to wait for some larger re-release at a later time.  It is a well-acted drama and one worth looking at in various ways, given the way it has been handled.  The Blu-ray is solid as well, with good-to-great video and a superb audio track.  Not much in the way of extras, beyond the obvious alternate cuts of the film, but still a worthy release.

Order Your Copy Here:

the disappearance of eleanor rigby



Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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