There are two…well, technically three versions of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (Weinstein Co., 9.26) — a Him/Her version (which constitutes two films) and a Them/mashup version. I didn’t see The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her at last September’s Toronto Film Festival, but I know it took 191 minutes to tell the same breakup story from the differing perspectives of James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain‘s characters. Word around the campfire is that Him/Her is a more interesting film than the 123-minute Them, which tells the same tale in a generic, neutral-ish way. In any event I saw Them last May in Cannes, and I can tell you three…no, four things:

(1) Them is an intimately rendered, believably performed adult relationship piece that “does it right,” for the most part. It’s about character and trust and need and longing and trauma, and it deserves all the nice things that have been said about it. As such it casts…how to say it?…a certain favor upon director-writer Ned Benson, at least in terms of how it feels as it moves along during the first hour. Benson is one of the good guys — a smart, mature filmmaker who’s tried to make and in many ways has succeeded in making the right kind of subtle, sophisticated troubled-relationship film;

(2) I nonetheless lost patience at the one-hour mark because I suddenly realized nothing was really happening — the story is about a breakup (due to an initially unexplained tragedy) and a possible rapproachment, but it boils down to being about a series of sometimes intriguing, sometimes meandering conversations between family members and friends with little hints of character thrown in from time to time…but nothing really happens in a semi-decisive, plot-propelling sense…nothing that makes you say “oh, that was interesting, what just occured”;

(3) The conversations between Chastain and Viola Davis‘s sardonic, world-weary NYU professor character started to bother me after a while. I started to ask myself, “Why am I supposed to give a shit about what Davis thinks about anything? What is she, Moses down from the mountain? Why doesn’t she just zip it?”;

(4) In the middle of an intimate moment that may signal a new beginning for their relationship, McAvoy tells Chastain that he had it off with another woman (a restaurant co-worker played by Nina Arianda) but not in a way that meant anything. Good God, man…never tell someone you love about any intimate contact (recent or otherwise) with another woman EVER. Respond to questions but never, ever offer that. Any guy who’s dumb enough to do what McAvoy does in this scene doesn’t have my allegiance or rooting interest. When this happened I said to myself, “All right, that’s it…this guy is an emotional idiot…he doesn’t deserve to get back together with Jessica Chastain.”

[Note: The preceding is a re-posting of a 6/18/14 Cannes review.]