In the opening scene Eleanor, in a fine performance by Jessica Chastain, attempts suicide by jumping off a bridge. The attempt is unsuccessful and she is pulled out of the water and taken to hospital.

The film then follows two threads. It examines the events leading up to her suicide attempt and simultaneously how Eleanor’s family and friends respond to her obvious fragility. We are taken along on Eleanor’s journey of suffering but it is a fairly pragmatic journey. She attempts various techniques to regain and restore her life, and more deeply to question what is a way to live a life and how does one know. This is not a self indulgent tale of woe instead it is an intelligent and entertaining view of living.

She returns to her childhood home where her parents and her sister walk around on eggshells as they struggle with the unusual situation of having such a vulnerable person re-enter their lives. Not that Eleanor is walking around like a nutcase. Lots of her interactions with her family are insightful, rational and also very funny.

The film has a wonderful cast. Viola Davis as Eleanor’s lecturer Professor Lillian Friedman gives a wonderful performance. There are also great performances from Isabelle Huppert and William Hurt, as Eleanor’s parents and Jess Weixler as Eleanor’s sister.

Eleanor has separated from her husband Conor, (a fine performance by James McAvoy) and the intensity, romance and great fun of this relationship is examined with wisdom and sensitivity.

This is an excellent film by writer and director Ned Benson. It is impressive that this is his first feature film.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her was shown recently at the Sydney Film Festival.