Him presents the narrative in Conor’s view. His life is broken, but he is moving forward. His relationship with Eleanor is cold, as seen with her coldly brushing him off. The moment we meet Eleanor onscreen, it is evident that she could not stand the presence of Conor, and after a few scenes, has disappeared from his life. Besides his waning relationship, his business isn’t going well, and he has a solid-yet-rocky relationship with his father, whose current wife had just left him.
Like Him, Her presents the views of Eleanor. After her incident, she had retreated to her family home and started doing activities that wasn’t her norm. Her family has always consistently asked her if she was fine, and has resulted to finding avenues for her to let out her grief. It is through her perspective that we see bits of her past with Conor, and how happy and in love they were before everything else happened. In this version, Conor has almost completely disappeared from her life, only popping up in bits when Eleanor would initiate a meet.
What can be distinguished with the versions is that there are differences with their scenes together. The same event may be happening, but in Eleanor’s eyes, they were positioned differently, and Conor would have a different attitude. The same goes for Conor, with certain lines spoken differently, the treatment from the person different to how the other perceives it to be. In Eleanor’s point, Conor was apathetic, and to Conor, Eleanor was heartless.
Still, the films present the testimony to the acting skills of Chastain and McAvoy, as neither was able to go beyond the characters they portrayed in each other’s stories. They both knew what their characters were thinking and going through, but they didn’t show an inkling of that knowledge when they were supposed to be cold and heartless in the other’s story. Chastain in particular stood out. She can play a villain in one’s story, and yet she has your sympathy when her side is played out. McAvoy plays a good counterpart to Chastain’s Rigby, though he doesn’t stand out much in Chastain’s film. Both were supported with a great cast. Chastain’s had Viola Davis, who was amazing and a great companion to Rigby. McAvoy had Ciaran Hinds and Bill Hader whom he shared most of his scenes with.
What makes these great is the style Ned Benson used to portray their stories. However, as far as impact goes, there is a lack of conviction. There’s something amiss that fails to tie the two films together even if they’re complimentary to each other. It doesn’t leave you with much thoughts on the future of the two characters; they just simply float away afterwards. The sympathy for the characters only go to an extent, it’s difficult to sympathize for the progression/regression of their relationship because the way events are presented, the results are unclear.
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, James McAvoy, Nina Arianda, Viola Davis
Director: Ned Benson