One of my fondest memories of TIFF 13 will be the simple fact that I sat in the same theater with Jessica Chastain for what appeared to be one of the most personal moments of her career. The theater, the Visa Elgin in Toronto, is a giant spacious ornate beast that holds well over a 1000 people but still... I was there! And so was Jessica! Proximity glory even from the balcony, people.
The event was the premiere of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her and the movie, a two part romantic grief drama that runs 3 hours when combined (and which probably shouldn't be separated), will undoubtedly have a difficult path to audiences. So its first screening was in the biggest theater it will ever see to the most appreciative crowd it might ever get. That audience included a few members of the film's principal cast most of whom hadn't yet seen it.
Jessica Chastain was in tears afterwards detailing her friendship with the writer/director Ned Benson. They first met ten years ago when she approached him at a film festival where his short was playing asking to show him her reel because she loved his movie! (Take that Nicki & Naomi). This film, his feature debut, appears to be a giant loving personal gift to her or maybe its her gift to him since she stars and also produced it. Consider that Jessica's self proclaimed "favorite actress in the world" Isabelle Huppert plays her mom, that her beloved co-star from The Help Viola Davis plays her confidante and professor and that her very best friend "practically my sister" Jess Weixler (The Good Wife, Teeth a few years ago) plays her best friend & actual sister in the film and you know how personal this all runs.
The bow on this Jessica gift? The film, or films if you will, is/are wonderful. But more on them later.
Despite a premiere/movie that is all about loving and struggling with losing her (she's Elle Rigby), she deflected the light, getting most tearful when she expressed her feelings about her friend and debuting director's long journey to this premiere.
I'm just so happy for him."
When we (i.e. all of us) first met Jessica Chastain as an actress a couple of years ago now, her performances were so varied and and wave-like in their multitudes that who she was as a star offscreen was a tantalizing mystery. By the end of her first year in the limelight her offscreen persona was visible to all at the Oscars. Turns out she's just a big softie, a gushy sentimental girlie girl, a walking warm fuzzy. She probably loved unicorns as a child and probably still dots her "i"s with hearts! Which is all completely endearing... especially since her screen performances have told such a different story and cinema's iciest and least sentimental actress, Isabelle Huppert, happens to be her personal favorite.
Don't you love the rich disparity?
Podcast a group discussion of TIFF 13: Oscar buzz, our favorite films, and more
Ambition & Self Sabotage on Gravity and Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her
Mano-a-Mano Hallucinations Norway's Pioneer & Jake Gyllenhaal² in Enemy
Quickies Honeymoon, Young & Beautiful, Belle
Labor Day in a freeze-frame nutshell
August Osage County reactions Plus Best Picture Nonsense
Rush Ron Howard's crowd pleaser
The Past from Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi & Cannes Best Actress Berenice Bejo
Queer Double Feature: Tom at the Farm and Stranger by the Lake
Boogie Nights Live Read with Jason Reitman and Friends
First 3 Screenings: Child's Pose, Unbeatable and Isabelle Huppert in Abuse of Weakness
TIFF Arrival: Touchdown in Toronto. Two unsightly Oscars