Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Go To

There are two sides to every love story.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a set of three different movies written and directed by Ned Benson, each telling the story of a young couple and how they found and lost love. The cast includes Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Viola Davis, Isabelle Huppert, Ciarán Hinds, Bill Hader, and William Hurt.

The films are subtitled Him, Her, and Them, with the former two telling the story from the differing perspective of the husband and the wife, while the latter alternates the two POVs. Him and Her premiered to unanimous acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival, while Them was created later, following the films' acquisition by The Weinstein Company, and premiered to equal acclaim at the Cannes film festival. All three films were released in the United States on September 26, 2014, with Them receiving a mainstream release while Him and Her will play in arthouse theatres. A trailer can be seen here.

Tropes Associated With The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Include:

  • Ambiguous Ending: Him and Them end with Conor walking alone in the park and Eleanor slowly follows him. It's unclear if she means to catch up with him. In Her, however, she calls him and he turns around to look at her, but it's still uncertain if the two will overcome their problems.
  • Black Best Friend: Lillian soon gets slotted into this role, despite being Eleanor's professor.
  • Boy Meets Girl: Conor and Eleanor meet at college.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: This is Spencer's opinion of his son.
    Spencer: I need a manager to run the place—
    Conor: No, no!
    Spencer: Ah come on, let me finish.
    Conor: I like my place, we're doing just fine.
    Spencer: You're better than that.
    Conor: I don't really want to have this conversation right now.
    Spencer: I didn't furnish you with a six-figure education just so you could run some pop stand. This is a real restaurant.
  • Bungled Suicide: Eleanor attempts suicide by jumping from a bridge. The cause and the aftermath of it, is what drives the story of Her.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Eleanor is almost always dressed in black clothing, which indicates that she is still mourning for her son.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The titles and credits for each film are different colors. Him is blue, Her is reddish orange, and Them is purple.
  • Death of a Child: Even though we never actually see the kid outside a picture at the end, Eleanor and Conor's son dying is the source of all the film's drama.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change/Important Haircut: After her suicide attempt, Eleanor decides to cut her hair short and start wearing make-up as a sign that she has left her old life with her husband behind and starting a new one.
  • Grief-Induced Split: Eleanor and Conor's relationship suffers and breaks after the death of their infant son.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Spencer invokes this when he tells Conor, "You're a bit like me."
  • One Film for the Price of Three: A rare film example. The film was originally released in two versions showing the different perspectives of Conor (Him) and Eleanor (Her). The films are not sequels to each other but rather two different versions showing different sides to the story. A third version showcasing the most crucial parts of each side has been released subtitled Them.
  • Perspective Flip: Him to Her, and vice versa.
  • "Rashomon"-Style:
    • Them is constructed this way, with scenes alternating from the memories of both Conor and Eleanor.
    • Him and Her have shades of this trope as well in regards to the scenes where Conor and Eleanor are onscreen together. While both films use the same scenes, they differ slightly in regards to who does what and who says what.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: It's clear that Eleanor and Conor both love each other, but the memory of their son's death keeps them apart.
  • Shout-Out: The title character received her name from a song by The Beatles.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Conor uses a lot of F-bombs to emphasize his arguments
  • There Are No Therapists: Played straight with Conor; Eleanor's father tries to get her to see one, but she refuses.
  • Tragedy: The death of Eleanor and Conor's 2-month-old son serves as the impetus for the whole plot.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: Originally intended as such, but later averted by the creation of Them.