When the Cannes Film Festival lineup was revealed last month, there was a curious entry in the Un Certain Regard category: Ned Benson‘s “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby.” It was strange because, last September, the director hit the Toronto International Film Festival with a work-in-progress showing of the project as it was originally conceived—as two films: “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: His” and “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Hers” (read our review). The Cannes news made us wonder if Harvey Weinstein, who is signed up to distribute the film, had weighed in and kiboshed those original plans. The answer is much more complex, but the good news is, you’ll be able to see all three cuts.
Deadline reports that on September 26th, The Weinstein Company will release the two-hour Cannes cut, the newly-titled “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Them” into theatres. Then later in the fall, “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: His” and “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Hers” will get a limited bow in arthouse theatres.
If you’re still playing catchup, the film is led by Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy—with William Hurt, Viola Davis, Bill Hader, Jess Weixler, Ciaran Hinds, Isabelle Huppert and Nina Arianda in support—and examines a crumbling relationship told from the perspectives of each person. But for Benson, it was during the editing process when he latched onto another way to tell the story.
“At Toronto, it was this hanging question that lingered. It wasn’t until this year that I saw with my editor and my producing partner Cassandra Kulukundis and then talked with Harvey Weinstein about it, and he gave me the opportunity to see if it an omnipotent version could function as its own film. We got in a room and created the film that will premiere in Cannes,” Benson explained.
He continued: “We added some scenes I loved that I had to cut out, lost other scenes I loved, and used different reaction shots. I didn’t initially have the answer to that Toronto question about a combined version of the film, because I’d never tried it. If I had found that the third version didn’t exist, I would have thrown it away. I made two different films to empower audiences to see the story from two different viewpoints. It’s exciting to give them a choice to see it another way.”
Remember, this is a first time director, and with Harvey Weinstein fully on board, that ambition and approval from one of the veterans of the producing game is impressive. So, how do you want to see ‘Eleanor Rigby’? The choice is yours.