Told from the female perspective, the story of a couple trying to reclaim the life and love they once knew and pick up the pieces of a past that may be too far gone.
- While biking over a bridge in New York, Eleanor Rigby (Jessica Chastain) decides to commit suicide and climbs the barrier and throws herself into the Hudson River. She is successfully rescued. At the hospital, she is collected by her sister, Katy (Jess Weixler) who brings her back to their parents' home where Katy, along with her young son, are also living. Unsure of what to do with her life, Eleanor decides to listen to her father's suggestion that she re-enroll in school. She talks her way into late registration in professor Lilian Friedman's (Viola Davis) class and the two become friendly.
Meanwhile, Eleanor's father (William Hurt) also attempts to get her to see a psychiatrist. It is revealed that Eleanor has recently lost a son and has been incapable of coping with the grief.
In class one day Eleanor is handed a note and realizes it has been sent to her by her estranged husband Conor (James McAvoy). She leaves class and the two have a heated argument outside where she tells him to leave her alone. Finally assenting, Conor leaves only to be hit by a passing car. Eleanor reveals to the taxi cab driver who hit him that Conor is her husband. Conor is only mildly injured by the incident and before he goes to the hospital he asks if he can see Eleanor again.
After Katy tells Eleanor that Conor has been by the house, Eleanor goes to see him at his restaurant, where she learns it is failing and may go out of business very soon. She suggests that they rent a car and go driving aimlessly, something that she had once suggested they do when they were dating. Conor rents the car but it begins to rain heavily and their windshield wiper is broken making driving impossible. While they wait for the rain to pass Eleanor tries to initiate sex but Conor stops her and Eleanor realizes he has slept with someone else during their separation. She tells him it doesn't matter but on the return trip home she gets out of the car early and takes a moment to gather herself before continuing home.
The following evening, Eleanor and Katy go clubbing. Eleanor tries to pick up a stranger to have a one-night stand but finds herself unable to go through with it. Instead, she later goes to her former apartment to see Conor. She tells him she can no longer remember what their child looked like and he tells her that their son looked like her, but with his eyes. The two have sex, but Eleanor leaves and returns home. At her mother's suggestion, she decides to leave for Paris and finish the anthropology dissertation she abandoned when she met Conor.
As she says goodbye to her family, her nephew asks when she will return and is told she will come back next summer.
Sometime later, Eleanor returns to New York City. She sees Conor and follows behind him for a while before calling out to him.