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The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby - Him and Her (2014)
Ned Benson, USA
You ever watch a movie and think to yourself, 'I wish this would never end'? And to clarify, I watch and adore a lot of movies, but this is a statement I rarely apply to anything I watch. By way of example, I consider Days of Being Wild to be one of the best movies ever made - period. But as the film comes to a close, I'm fully content with the definitive nature of what transpired on screen over the past 90 minutes. Anyone who tells you that too much of a good thing equals badness is correct in every way. Movies have a run time for a reason, and reaching the end of a film should hopefully be (in the best cases) a satisfying check point. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is an exception to this rule, and even after a years of sitting on this, I can't seem to fully articulate how I feel in words. It's not that the ending isn't satisfying, because it damn well is. Especially if you watch the Him and Her versions separately, which just comes to a towering conclusion that basically screams at you. Mind you, in a very soft and silent way, with no actual major theatrics. But I remember watching both segments at TIFF where they were shown back to back without interruption, and even after 3 hours, I had no sense of urgency for things to end. The film could've continued running for another 3 hours, and my bladder notwithstanding, I would've stayed right there in my seat. Everything from the acting, beautiful characterizations and blush cinematography were climatic in their own way. This was essentially drama and romance in its purest and most cinematic form. Compare that to the Before trilogy (something I arguably love even more), which has this sense of realism to it that nudges at actual conversations you share with those around you. Things can feel eerily similar to real life. Eleanor Rigby doesn't necessary go for that type of realism, though the conversations and interactions all feel quite genuine. Instead, it carries this sense of reality into an environment that never tries to be anything but a movie. Everything here feels cinematic, yet it doesn't, and that's what threads the needle through this beautiful piece of art. It's a special combination that I'm sure can be relegated to many other films, but for me, no one has done it like this before. I concede that this was probably a sub-par explanation of what I'm trying to articulate, but that's just the thing. Sometimes you get a feeling about something that you can't quite put your finger on, and I think that's exactly how I feel about The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. It might not be my favourite movie of all time, but it's one of the only movies I wish would just never end. On a side note, skip the 'Them' version if you can and try to find yourself a copy of the 'Him and Her' iteration. Trust me, it'll be well worth your time.
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