Directed by: Ned Benson
Claimed to be the “One of the Most Romantic Love Story Ever”, based on the quote from the poster. The movie is the farthest thing from romantic, that’s like saying Blue Valentine is “romantic”. What makes it so good is that it skips the idea of romantic movie, the two characters meet and develop a relationship only to be tested down the road and eventually resolving their conflict, and goest straight to the destruction of their relationship and the ramification of their marriage. The marketing for this movie was terrible, showing us a movie that was completely different from the product but it subverts your expectations and delivers one of the most compelling character study of two damaged souls trying to rekindle a dead relationship.
Beginning at one of the only happy point in their relationship, as shown in the movies timeline. We open up on Eleanor Rigby (Jessica Chastain) and Connor Ludlow (James McAvoy) enjoying their meal at a local restaurant. Connor asks Eleanor what she would do if he didn’t have the money to pay for the bill. The two decide to dine and dash. After being chased out of the restaurant, Eleanor and Connor run towards Central Park and enjoy the rest of the night in the park.
We cut to Eleanor riding her bike to the Brooklyn Bridge where she attempts to take her life. We learn that their marriage has fallen apart due to the death of their child which has hurt Eleanor and Connor in different ways. Eleanor believes that her life is no long worth living and Connor has resorted to withdrawing himself from their relationship. After the attempt on her life, Eleanor moves back in with her family and then goes back to finish school. Connor on the other hand has let his bar go into shambles and is on the brick of closing. Both of their lives have taken a turn for the worse and they are lost without each other.
Originally conceived as two separate movies focusing on each others experience. After the premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival the movie was eventually edited into one version called Them. Watching the movie you can tell that each other had a completely different style for their stories. Eleanor’s story was a bit more vibrant with brighter colors and Connor’s story was a little more muted and featured a more grey color scheme. I like this because it shows a lot about their emotions. Eleanor was learning to move on from her wrecked marriage and the cinematography represented her changing view of life. The muted style of Connor’s story showed his emotions towards their situation and how he can’t move on from the turmoil that has befallen them.
In the end each other are still drawn to one another and still feel that the can rekindle their relationship but eventually the move even farther apart. The story telling of this movie is simply amazing. It takes the time to view each others emotion and how they both decide to handle everything. We switch between their perspective and shows what they are going through. Throughout the movie you can tell that it was originally two movie but as one it succeeds at showing pure emotion.
Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy both create characters that are fully realized and are able to make you care for these characters and their struggles. Jessica Chastain shows her range as an actress and proves that she is a powerhouse performer and deserves the recognition from her peers. James McAvoy also shows that he has the capability to be an amazing actor. This is by far his best performance of his career. He brings you in and lets you live the character that he has brought to screen. This movie is much more an actors film that a story driven film but with these two performances it completely works.
I loved the way that this movie was done and I am complete invested in the characters as well as the story. I highly recommend everyone seeing this movie but beware it is a hard experience.