‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her and Him’
It was probably a tall order for audiences to see a three-hour, two-film break-up saga, even one with Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. But the theatrical release of Ned Benson’s epic drama was badly mishandled, taking what was a bold, often devastating gimmick — one film tells the story from her perspective, the other from his — and smashing them together into the single two-hour “Them.” All that did, though, was turn it into a standard (albeit peerlessly acted) indie, and since that was released first, it hardly pumped viewers into spending more time with them via the original cut. But now, thanks to streaming, you can bypass the useless “Them” altogether and witness how “Her” and “Him” force the viewer to feel the anguish of eliminating a person from your life and fumbling about while creating a new you.
For one of the reportedly happiest countries on the planet, Sweden has always been a whiz with downer cinema. One of last year’s most hilariously exacting dramas has a killer premise: while on a skiing holiday, a father (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) outs himself as a selfish coward when what looks like an avalanche prompts him to run for his life, leaving wife and kids behind. Alas, it wasn’t an avalanche, and the rest of the film observes as his macho patriarchy is deflated inch-by-inch, often thanks to the cold quesitoning by his newly disenchanted wife (Lisa Loven Kongsli). What results is fun for the whole family.
Few seem to have noticed that Robin Wright gave what may be her best ever performance in a movie that’s half-animated. Playing “Robin Wright,” she’s an actress in a dystopian future in which entertainment has gone so digital that actors are “scanning” themselves and having their on-screen likenesses live in eternal youth. The first half is live-action, but the second jump decades into the future when most of the world’s denizens have retreated to virtual cartoon worlds — you know, the probable actual future.
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