It’s tiring to see movies that consider themselves too good to be honest. Subtlety can be great, even beautiful if done properly, but it can’t be forced. Especially when you’re dealing with a movie that looks at the evolution of young love and how its thrill vanishes when replaced by the deep pain of loss. Emotion needs to pour out of such films, it needs to be raw and out there for the audience to experience and to feel, not buried deep under pages of dialogue and astute camerawork that few people care about.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: THEM

The Michigan Theater
The Weinstein Company

Movies should strive for empathy, not sympathy. Granted, this doesn’t always work because different movies need to be handled differently, but it’s pretty evident that “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them,” directed by newcomer Ned Benson, could have done with a lot less beating around the bush.

The story, a pared-down combination of the “Him/Her” films that studied each character separately, follows Eleanor Rigby (Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”) and Connor (James McAvoy, “X Men: Days of Future Past”), a young couple that goes through a crisis in their relationship when their son dies. Eleanor abandons Connor and goes to live with her parents. Connor eventually tracks her down to deal with their problems and try to to move past an obstacle that apparently dealt a fatal blow to their relationship.

This could have been a story about love, loss, compromise and strength, the things that real relationships are supposed to be made of, but it just doesn’t take off. The actors’ talent is wasted and they’re hardly given any meaningful dialogue to work with. Intimate scenes that delve into the tenderness of the characters’ relationships are beautiful when fully explored, but they’re few and far between. The relationship between Eleanor and Connor is a very, very slow dance to no music — it’s boring to watch and you just don’t see the point of it.

It’s easy to see the other side of things and point out that one cannot suddenly be open and deal with such an insurmountable loss for the sake of making an engrossing story. Real life isn’t easy and emotion doesn’t pour out of every sentence and interaction. Situations do get complicated and sometimes they get so bad that people just don’t know what to do. But “Disappearance” mishandles even those real-life struggles. Characters move from one event to the next as if the events themselves aren’t even connected, with no apparent consequences.

This is an especially frustrating film to watch because you know that it has the potential to be great. All the tools are there — the talent of the actors, the possibility of a unique story — but they’re just not used to said potenital. Just like Connor, who is frustrated with watching his wife live through her problems without talking to him, viewers are bound to be discontented with this film because it just won’t speak to them.

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