'The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby' to Be Released as Three Films
Since 2012 we've known that The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby was going to be two films split into His and Hers, telling the same story of a couple's disintegrating marriage, but from two different perspectives. Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy star in the films which debuted at TIFF just last year. However, you'll also find it listed on the line-up for the Cannes Film Festival as a single film with the running time of 1 hour and 59 minutes. So what's the deal there? Well, Deadline has learned The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is now actually three movies, and a new version will be playing at Cannes.
The version of the film playing in France will be The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them. And as you might have guest, this film will be a more traditional presentation of the story, using both footage from both His and Hers to make up this new concise telling of the broken romance. And while this sounds like something that might be the doing of a studio looking to hit a more mainstream audience, this idea actually came from director Ned Benson himself. The filmmaker explains:
“At Toronto, it was this hanging question that lingered. It wasn’t until this year that I saw with my editor and my producing partner Cassandra Kulukundis and then talked with Harvey Weinstein about it, and he gave me the opportunity to see if it an omnipotent version could function as its own film. We got in a room and created the film that will premiere in Cannes.
Insane is probably the best way to describe all this. The idea of creating a third way to see this story, to have a two-hour relationship film or give the viewer the choice of seeing it in the three hour, two-part perspective is one of the most educational film experiences I’ve had in my life. And the outcome is mind-blowing, like hitting the lottery.”
But overbearing producer Harvey Weinstein is involved, and he didn't make this happen? Benson says:
“Harvey never set foot in the room. I showed him the assembly and some cuts, and we found the film had a completely new rhythm. We did the whole thing in about a month, starting with this massive assembly of footage and working backwards. We added some scenes I loved that I had to cut out, lost other scenes I loved, and used different reaction shots. I didn’t initially have the answer to that Toronto question about a combined version of the film, because I’d never tried it. If I had found that the third version didn’t exist, I would have thrown it away. I made two different films to empower audiences to see the story from two different viewpoints. It’s exciting to give them a choice to see it another way.”
This is truly fascinating how this film came together. In fact, this assembly of films almost feels as innovative and interesting as something like Boyhood, where director Richard Linklater used the same child actor (and adult actors) over 11 years of production, the result being a masterful, original coming-of-age tale (you can watch the trailer here). So how will the film hit theaters outside of film festivals? Benson says the hope is to release Them around September 26th, and then a month or a little more later, they will give His and Hers in a limited release. Sound interesting? Will you see all three versions of the film?