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TIFF Update - Day 10: The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her, 1982, Faith Connections, and 12 Years a Slave
Unison Films, 2013
Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy in The Disappearance of Elanor Rigby: Him and Her

Editor's Note: We can't all make it to the Toronto International Film Festival (which is too bad, since it's where some of the best films of the next year are shown). But CT has had the next best thing: daily updates during the Festival from our critic Ken Morefield. All this week, we've had capsule reviews and reflections on some of the festival's most important movies. You can get to them all via the links at the end of this article.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her, directed by Ned Benson
1982, directed by Tommy Oliver
Faith Connections, directed by Nan Palin
12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen

Clocking in at just over three hours, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is really two movies played back to back. Him follows Conor (James McAvoy), a man trying to keep his failing restaurant afloat while he deals with his wife's depression. When she leaves, he tries to wait patiently, tries to get on with his life, and fitfully tries to reconnect with her. Her follows Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) as she tries to deal with the root causes of her depression and start over after a family tragedy and a personal breakdown.

Eleanor Rigby's conceit—I'm tempted to say "gimmick"—is that it shows their two stories back to back rather than interweaving or cutting between them. Thus it becomes both a Rashomon story and a meditation on how we make and preserve memories. The films are designed to be played in either order, with one screening at TIFF flip-flopping to give us Her and Him.

I liked and esteemed the film a lot, even though the gimmick was the only part that didn't work for me. After twenty-five years of marriage, I get that people remember things differently. ...

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