p06-shoji-eleanor-a-20150213THEM. HER. HIM.

That’s the order to watch them in. The director made three films of the same story from three perspectives. Them (2014), he released a year after the other two. Despite the overlap, a distinct change in perception exists and shifts between the three. I found myself sympathizing with each character equally, depending on the perspective. However, the changes were subtle and the story often unaffected.

We are selfish beings who protect our own innocence and see ourselves as the victims. It is somehow healing to see the same story from three sides. It’s the essence of sociology. The same book sits on a table, but one person sitting there gets a view of the top edges and rough pages while another sees only the spine.c43b5da0aeb3cff0424300369501b945

This beautifully acted story tells the three sides of heartbreak as tragedy tugs at us all differently. Some, like the husband, swim headfirst under the wave of sorrow and into the torrents of business and busyness and every day existence hoping to come up on the other side unscathed. James McAvoy runs a failing restaurant in New York City with his best friend Bill Hader . His father, Ciaran Hinds, runs a successful restaurant and can offer little support or advice that will help his wounded son find what he also cannot.

disappearanceofeleanorrigby_splash650Others, like the wife, tumble in the riptide until fighting the wave feels too difficult and they want to give in to the dive knowing they’ll never resurface to breathe the same air again. Jessica Chastain dives and is reborn. She moves home, cuts her hair, starts over. She takes classes from the perfect teacher, Viola Davis . Sometimes, people inadvertently offer life-giving support just by sharing a coffee or a personal story. Her father, William Hurt, obviously aches beside his daughter but says little. No one can bring Eleanor Rigby back to life any more than they can revive her child. Healing takes time, turmoil, patience, forgiveness, and more love than any of them believe that they can spare.DISAPPEARANCE-master675

These films are not for the fearful, forlorn, or finicky.  They are dark, personal, pain-filled and foreboding. They deal in recovery, but hit bottom first. The layers serve to complicate and dissect the tumultuous waves of grief, which are unforeseeable and almost unnavigable,  much like real life.

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